Movie Review: ‘Blood And Money’

Review by James Lindorf

Tom Berenger stars in “Blood and Money,” the feature film debut of director and co-writer John Barr. Berenger plays Jim Reed, a simple man on the surface; he is comfortable with the isolation of the North Maine Woods look to get his buck for the season. Below the surface, the retired marine and recovering alcoholic lies a complicated past and a familiarity with violence. When Jim finds a duffle bag filled with cash next to a dead body in the woods, he gives in to the temptation of taking the money for himself. This act sets into motion a deadly game of cat and mouse, Jim will have to push past all his limits if he wants to make it out of the woods alive. “Blood and Money” also stars Kristen Hager (Being Human), Mark Siversten (Ballers), Paul Ben Victor (The Irishman), it will be available in select theaters and through VOD platforms starting May 15th.

You have to give the 70-year-old Tom Berenger a lot of credit to take on such a physically demanding role. The film was shot on location in northern Maine, snow, and ice on the roads and covering every inch of the forest. He may not be able to move as he did in “Platoon” or “Sniper,” but he handled himself far better than a lot of retirees would have. He may be a little apprehensive at times, and the role involves a lot of laying down, but laying on the cold, rocky ground isn’t easy for hours on end. Unfortunately, his monumental effort was not matched by the exertion to create the movie’s screenplay.

“Blood and Money” is a basic film, a limited number of characters in a remote area fighting to the death over ill-gotten money. This premise can be used in entertaining or all-time great ways in the case of movies like “Cliffhanger” or “No Country for Old Men.” While it may be something we have seen dozens of times, that does not mean it can’t be done in exciting ways. When you cast someone like Tom Berenger at 70 years old, that means you are not going to rely on your action to be your hook. That leaves cinematography and character to draw in an audience.

John Barr and his co-writers Mike McGrale and Alan Petherick did their best to and intrigue to their characters. Jim has something dark in his past; all we know is that it involves his daughter, and whatever it is, has Jim filled with guilt and could be driving his desire for isolation. With the guilt, his trouble with alcohol, his military background, and a mysterious illness, there is a lot to unpack with Jim. Regrettably, Jim is like a forgotten suitcase at the back of the closet, full of many great things, but no one is going through the effort to pull them out. He is easily the most complex character, but there are hints that there is more going on in the lives of the other people he comes across, but it never moves beyond that point. Barr also served as Blood and Money’s cinematographer. While there are no bad shots and some stunning landscape shots, it can be best described as utilitarian. He got the job done in an acceptable manner, but if he were a plumber, you would be on the fence about recommending his work to a friend.

“Blood and Money” is a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon movie. You can fold laundry or go check the grill while it is playing and rarely risk missing too much. There isn’t anything off-putting, but a lot of viewers will find themselves fighting the urge to reach for their phone or other distraction as the story struggles to pull you in.

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