Maine might work for some story backdrops, but not even Tom Berenger can save “Blood and Money.” After 90 minutes, you might feel that’s exactly what you spent trying to watch with this action-drama- blood and money.
Retired veteran Jim Reed (Tom Berenger) loves hunting and living a simple life in his RV. As a matter of fact, most days you will find Reed either attending AA meetings or in the Allagash Mountains hunting deer despite his declining health. One day while tracking a deer, Reed shoots a moving object, which he believes to be a beautiful big deer, but he unintentionally shoots an armed woman carrying a large duffle bag from a recent casino robbery. With her dying breathe, she curses Reed as he approaches and hesitantly grabs the duffle bag. However, Reed soon discovers the money might not be worth the effort as the rest of the gang comes after him looking for their missing money.
Cinematographer John Barr makes his feature length debut with “Blood and Money,” but forgot to develop beyond the visuals. Tom Berenger beautifully fits the bill as retired veteran Jim Reed almost as though his character Master Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Beckett (“Sniper”) meets Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes (“Platoon”) with a hint of “A Simple Plan.” His hardened and withdrawn personality perfectly captures the sadness and pain with a life full of regret. Reed’s only solace is minimal conversations at the local diner and AA meetings as people perplex him, which Berenger brilliantly captures his anguish and frustrations. Akin to another era, Tom Berenger fits fantastically as a more mature Sniper-like character or even Staff Sergeant Michael “Mike” Vronsky (“The Deer Hunter”) decades later trying to cope with civilian life. His icy blue eyes and terrifically tough demeanor as a loner certainly standout with this performance. Berenger feels like a classic character actor from a western or even a drama in the 1950s and 1960s dropped into a modern movie. This is the perfect fit for Tom Berenger, but only if there was more substance.
Unless you really like Tom Berenger or dumb-luck hunter movies finding money (“No Country For Old Men” and “A Simple Plan”), the film doesn’t develop into something substantial. “Blood and Money” makes me fondly reminisce visiting the local video store and renting a VHS because an actor I like is in it. Over the past few years, winter stories involving hunters/soldiers have become more commonplace with “Wind River,” “The Grey,” and “Cold Pursuit” coming to mind immediately. The latter two starred Liam Neeson and in some sense, the film tries to replicate, but on a smaller budget lacking enough action and drama to maintain your interest. As a matter of fact, the minimalistic approach immensely impacted the overall enjoyment as you kept want more. “Blood and Money” lacks the serious oomph. It doesn’t properly pack any action sequences and the ones seen, seem too toned down that it’s infuriating.
Overall, “Blood and Money” is in the vein of a film like “Bad Ass,” where you only really rent it due to the cast. In this case, you need to love Tom Berenger and imagine a low-budget version of a Liam Neeson film in the snow. “Blood Money” doesn’t linger long after you stop watching, but it’s something interesting to watch if you want a throwback film. Imagine an RKO movie or a B-movie from the 1950s a la “Silver Lode” with a familiar storyline you’ve seen several times. Just like Jim Reed’s shooting skills, this is a misfire you wish had better aim.
1 ½ out of 4 stars
Available on VOD starting Friday, May 15th
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