Starring: Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Zoe Saldana, Marion Cottilard, Mila Kunis, Matthias Schoenaerts, James Caan, Noah Emmerich, Lili Taylor
Directed by: Guillaume Canet
Synopsis: Two brothers, on either side of the law, face off over organized crime in Brooklyn during the 1970s.
It’s funny, really. You can have a good idea for a film, you can get some financial backing enabling you to set it, rather authentically, in a previous decade. You can get a top-notch A-list cast. But all of that is for nothing if the end product ends up similar to Blood Ties. In football terms it would be the same as buying the eleven “best players in the world” and then presuming you will win every match. Doesn’t always work like that.
Blood Ties, despite it’s promise just doesn’t live up to it. The strange thing is, I don’t actually know why. It just had, well, nothing. It clearly owes a huge debt to the likes of Goodfellas, Carlitos Way, Heat and Donnie Brasco, but gets no where near any of them. I don’t know if the studio got involved along the line somewhere, but it seemed like a bit of a mess. It was like the writer had so many ideas he tried to cram too many in to a movie that only needed a couple of them.
Clive Owen plays Chris, newly released from prison and a bit of a ‘bad egg’. His younger brother Frank, however, is actually a cop. They have a begrudging love for each other, but entirely different lives. Then throw into the mix their dying father (Caan) and some love interest (Kunis and Saldana) and there is your mess.
Everything in Blood Ties just felt disconnected for some reason. I’m not saying it’s a hard film to follow particularly, just not very cohesive. It wants to be like the classic films I mentioned above, and fails terribly. The shoot-out scene bares resemblance to that of Heat, the ending more than a whiff of Carlito’s Way and their is even a direct lift of the slo-mo cut with Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” scene from Goodfellas.
The other thing, whilst I’m at it. I just can’t warm to Clive Owen as an actor. He has zero charisma or personality that I can tell. It’s like he’s too good looking to be an average Joe, but too average to be anything better. The rest of the cast are OK, Billy Crudup being the most believable, with the likes of Kunis, Cottilard and Saldana confined to the typical “gangsters broad” type roles.
Blood Ties could have been a pretty good period piece, a crime drama like the ones made in the decade it portrays, but ultimately wastes whatever promise it had with messy plot and editing.