When I first saw the trailer for this I immediately thought of another film called We Own the Night which was directed by James Gray. As the beginning credits began to roll for Blood Ties I saw that James Gray actually wrote the screenplay and so the similarities I feared would be plentiful and they certainly are. This is the film’s greatest weakness, unoriginality. It’s wonderfully acted, paced well enough to keep one’s attention and the violence is gritty as is expected in a crime drama. But the cliché crime drama moments are littered throughout and it drags the film down from ever being something more. Basic outline for We Own the Night: Two brothers on either side of the law face-off against one another and their family loyalties are pushed to their limits. Basic outline for Blood Ties: See outline for We Own the Night. There are a few details in each film that differ from one another but not enough to be over looked.
Now, despite its glaring flaws this was actually a very enjoyable movie to watch. I personally loved We Own the Night and so this was just like a trip back down a familiar but beloved road. The strongest aspect is the acting; the grittiness these actors bring to their roles makes this otherwise forgettable drama something to experience if only once. The real joy comes from the two leads Clive Owen and Billy Crudup and the relationship they create with one another. Each character hates what the other has become but the love and loyalty they have never dies, even in the face of immense adversity. Being human they naturally question if their loyalty is wrong but ultimately decide that blood is thicker than water. Yes the cops and criminals aspect is a big focus but behind it all is a simple family drama and it makes for a more palpable storyline and thus a better film. The action feels more dire because of the people holding the guns and swinging the fists are those you’ve come to care about.
Set in the 70’s, two brothers have taken very different paths in life. One is a police officer and the other is as opposite as one can possibly get, a criminal. Fresh out of a 9 year prison sentence, Chris (Owen) swears off his old ways for good but as he soon finds out, old habits die hard. Suddenly Chris has money, a nice car and a shiny new ring for his new fiancé. It doesn’t add up and Chris’ brother Frank (Crudup) knows that all is not right with his brother. Keeping an eye on Chris and trying to stay on top of a case at work as well as get his girl back, Frank is beginning to feel the weight of the world and it just might be too much to carry. The one thing Frank fears most is that a case will come across his desk that involves Chris and before long his fear comes to fruition. Loyalties will be tested, guns will be fired and people will die. Chris and Frank just hope it isn’t their kin in the crosshairs.
I would say that any fan of this genre should give Blood Ties a chance but don’t expect to be wowed. This isn’t anything astounding but it tries and that’s more than a lot of films these days. Nothing about this screamed laziness or haphazardness but certainly could have benefited from some tweaking of the script. As I said, unoriginality plagues this movie and will be lost in the pile before too long. It’s decent but in such an over saturated medium like crime drama, decent isn’t good enough; greatness is demanded, see The Departed for tips.
Rated R For: violence, pervasive language, some sexual content and brief drug use
Run Time: 127 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard
Directed By: Guillaume Canet
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2.5/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 3.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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