10th Nov2020

‘Blood and Money’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Tom Berenger, Kristen Hager, Paul Ben-Victor, Jimmy LeBlanc, Mark Sivertsen, Brian Duffy, Ace Gibson, Ryan Homchick, Caroline Portu, Erica McDermott | Written and Directed by John Barr

Retired war veteran Jim Reed (Berenger) heads out on a hunting trip in the Allagash backcountry of Maine but when an accident finds him face-to-face with the corpse of a dead woman and a duffle bag packed with stolen money he soon finds himself in a web of deceit and murder. Fighting both extreme cold and a gang of bloodthirsty bank robbers, Reed must put all of his military training into action in an ice-cold game of cat-and-mouse.

The debut feature for cinematographer John Barr, Blood and Money is clearly modelled after the films of the Coen Brothers but without any of the style or panache of that duos film – Barr seemingly thinking the noir-ish characters and snowy setting are what mark out the Coen’s work. It’s not.

The story itself is pretty simple, the same kind of action-thriller tale we’ve seen a million times before in a million other movies; so what Blood and Money needs is something to help it stand head and shoulders over others of its ilk. Now me, I’d put money on having veteran actor Tom Berenger as your lead would that magical touch you need – after all he’s great in the Sniper movies; which oftentimes share a similar story beat and Berenger’s similar stoic performance. However here Berenger’s given little to do other than look grumpy and swear a lot most of the time!

To be fair, there is some early character development, as Jim strikes up conversation with a waitress, Debbie, in the local diner; and we get some back story to let us know just why this crotchety old man is out in the cold forest, seemingly dying on his feet. And the character arc is also interesting to watch – this fragile old man, as he hunts down the bank robbers in the Allagash, becomes less fragile and more vicious, as if the hunter within him (we see him killing deer without a license early doors) reinvigorates him, giving him a purpose he did not previously have.

Blood and Money‘s biggest problem however is that Berenger’s Jim Reed is just not a good guy. He accidentally kills someone and instead of calling the cops he steals the cash? When confronted he goes on the offensive. Ultimately he’s more of a ruthless bastard than any of the bank robbers he takes on. And as such there’s no empathy for him, you don’t care whether he lives or dies, you don’t root for him. Plus seeing a character who’s clear got major life and health issues is not any kind of fun – and films like this should at least be fun.

This isn’t. Its a dour and downbeat film that, in the end, is more of a character study than action-thriller. Unfortunately you won’t care enough about the characters within and as such Blood and Money becomes something of a chore to sit through; with a conclusion that is more perfunctory than satisfying…

Blood and Money is out now on DVD and Digital from Signature Entertainment.

One Response to “‘Blood and Money’ Review”

  • “Blood and Money” is a beautiful (low-budget) film, real and raw without so many frills, that comes closest to reality. Tom Berenger (great and extraordinary actor, but incredibly underrated), is the protagonist of this movie, and thanks to his acting performance the film doubles its value. In my opinion, this movie was supposed to last 15 minutes or 20 minutes longer

    N. B . : The film, i saw it in the original language – I’m from northern Italia