March 5, 2015

Blood Ties

Guillame Canet, 2014
The first thing you notice with Blood Ties is the loaded cast. Clive Owen, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Noah Emmerich, Marion Cottilard, James Caan. It almost feels as if someone owed someone a favor. How could it go wrong? Probably because Guillame Canet is at the helm. He wants to make his version of a 1970’s Period Piece like American Hustle. He knows the music. He knows the attire. He knows the cars. But it just feels lacking. That and the film has some problems with it. First off, Clive Owen is one of the best actors working today. But he is miscast here. He just doesn't fit the role as the dirt-bag criminal brother. His character just feels unauthentic. The neck and arm tattoos feel painted on. The accent, while not British, is not exact. Owen was actually replacing Mark Wahlberg for the role, who had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. But Wahlberg probably wouldn't have been really good either. You really need someone in the role who has more street grit, someone more erratic. Someone with more deep-seated New York ties. Maybe someone like Michael Imperioli. Not an English actor pretending to be a New Yorker. Another miscast is Mila Kunis who really brings nothing to her role other than her good looks. She is the typical cliched girl who can't resist the bad boys. That being said, praise is due to the casting choice of Billy Crudup who really nails his Frank role. Crudup is one of the more underrated actors working today.

There are problems with the film. Instead of being in the presence of complex characters you sit in the presence of caricatures. A good example is James Caan’s father character who really feels one-dimensional. Comes off as sort of an aged Sonny Corleone if he had lived to his later years. But without the depth that Coppola was able to add to that character. This character is just a slow moving, bitter Italian who spends most of his time angry at his late wife that he had left decades ago. His purpose in the film is really to only to force continuous confrontations between Frank and Chris, reminding them of their (here it comes!) Blood Ties. There is some poor editing in the film. Chris and Frank get into physical altercation with each other in Frank’s apartment. Frank kicks him out and tells him he never wants to see him again. He goes into work the next day only to be told by his commanding officers that they can’t have him working if Chris is living there. You would assume the response would be: “funny you say that! he just moved out last night. He won’t be coming around again. You have my undivided attention when it comes to me doing my job as an officer of the law”. But no. Instead he comes off as insulted, offended. Storms out. Did he completely forget about the previous nights events?

Blood Ties could be considered a bad movie with a good ending. The last half hour or so of the film is actually quite decent. A great car chase scene filled with all of the period automobiles which feels like it took a lot of effort to choreograph. A call back to a childhood event that really lands. Good final scene. That’s great, except for the fact that you have to bear the unsubstantial first 2/3’s of the movie to get to the good parts.

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