Blood and Money
Blood and Money, or, Karma Is a Bitch. This film, set in the possibly most remote and wild area of the United States, northern Maine, is slow. So, so slow. CFR said I could give my original review, which boils down to, “an action adventure movie in super slo mo”. I’m still saying that, but I thought I’d give you a bit more.
I had not realized just how large the wilderness of northern Maine is, though I had a vague idea after vacationing there once and noticing the state maps peter out once away from the coast and begin to look like something from Lord of the Rings. Tom Berenger (The Big Chill) plays Jim, an ancient old coot who exists on the edge of society, eating in a small town diner, spending his nights in a tiny truck camper, grieving the daughter he killed while drunk driving decades before. Any other time he’s either vomiting and coughing up buckets of blood then passing out in the snow, or deer hunting. When he doesn’t get one on the first shot he tries again and blasts one of only two women in the movie. This is where Karma begins to really mess with Jim. He feels doubly bad because he killed his daughter, so he runs away until he realizes he left evidence so back he goes to get it, and discovers the young woman was carrying a bag full of loot from a casino robbery. Oh, dilemma. No, not really. He grabs the bag and shuffles away. You will remember this is an action movie with a very old and very sick lead.
The film is not only very slow for its type, but quiet, except during the gun battle scenes, where he exchanges rounds with the slow witted but well-armed casino robbers who know he’s got their money. There are a lot of scenes the viewer becomes very aware of the peaceful aspect of the deep wilderness, especially with a deep blanket of snow muffling the world until all action focuses on old man Jim and the bad guys who can’t seem to track his footprints through that snow. Jim knows the back woods well, and is resourceful enough to continue fighting back despite karma pressing harder and harder.
Somehow the quiet and slowness didn’t bother me too much. It’s certainly a different way to tell an action story, and you don’t get a strong sense of where you are in the three act structure. Berenger played a super handsome Hollywood leading man in The Big Chill, baring his chest briefly while hopping into bed with two young women. Here, we see him fall through the ice, soaking his shoes and pants then lumbering off to burn a few thousand dollars of loot and taking off his shirt again forty years later…to…warm his feet? Ah, Hollywood. Not only do I disbelieve that helped warm him, but really with the shirt?
I had not intended to write a review for this movie, because it’s bizarrely slow, but it stuck with me and I though well, maybe other people might be interested. First time director John Barr began as a cinematographer, so maybe that’s why the film looks fine, though not spectacular, and everything else is just okay as well. If you’re looking for something different, unfrenzied, quiet, and set in an unusual part of the US, then try this out.