More often than not, police procedural films tend to be somewhat linear. Of course there are notable exceptions like The Departed and Seven, but for the most part they all share a somewhat linear scope. So imagine my surprise upon watching Blood, a crime thriller starring Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Mark Strong and Brian Cox. What begins as a normal whodunit, evolves into something of a complex character study supported by some very strong performances. So why is Blood so… boring?
Blood tells the story of two detectives, Joe and Chrissie Fairburn (Bettany and Graham), who are investigating the murder of a young girl in a sleepy British town. Their investigation leads them to an emotionally unstable man who they arrest for the crime. When he is set free due to lack of evidence, Joe and Chrissie conduct their own brutal interrogation that leads to a grave mistake. Now they must do whatever they can to hide their crime, before their colleague (Strong) discovers what happened.
The biggest problem with Blood is that it moves at a snail’s pace. The set-up to the film, featuring a side story revolving around their former police chief father (Brian Cox), seems to weave into the story perfectly and adds another dimension to the plight of the brothers Fairburn. Unfortunately, after the turn of events that sends the story spiraling out of control, it becomes less of a thriller and more of a shoddy character study. With a group of actors as talented as those assembled here, I’m surprised at how underused they were. Particularly the great Mark Strong, who is establishing himself nicely as a fantastic character actor. His character Robert is relegated to the background, and his scenes become less and less important. I can only guess that the character was written and developed more in the screenplay than what was shown in the finished product.
Paul Bettany takes the driver’s seat in the film, as his character becomes more and more emotionally tortured by the fallout of his actions. His paranoia, coupled with his own personal demons, make the character less and less interesting. This is not the fault of Bettany, who turns in a fantastic performance, and more of an indictment on the film’s scribe, Bill Gallagher. As Chrissie, Stephen Graham turns in a more compelling performance and your focus shifts to him as he seems more like collateral damage in Joe’s own personal destruction. Brian Cox does the best he can with his role, but it ultimately feels like a non-sequitor in the story. Essentially, he plays the overbearing father character that you find in most films of this nature.
Blood will not be remembered as a classic, and it will likely be purged from your memory within days of viewing it. It’s not a terrible film, but it certainly doesn’t break the mold of the typical police drama. With a criminally under-used cast, and a maddening use of unnecessary melodrama, Blood can’t seem to get out of it’s own way.