Director: Nick Murphy
Cast: Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Brian Cox, Mark Strong
Watch online: Netflix UK / iTunes / TalkTalk TV
One of the best things about video on-demand is the way it gives indie films a chance to reach a wider audience. This week, BBC Films releases Blood into a handful of UK cinemas. Nowhere near London? Luckily, you can still watch it on video on-demand – and it’s definitely worth it.
“Sometimes we can mistake anger for caring.” That’s sensible policeman Robert (Strong) to worked-up copper Joe (Bettany). And who can blame Joe for being tetchy? He’s got a lot to be worked up about. His father (Cox) was a ball-busting police chief and now has Alzheimer’s. His younger brother, Chrissie (Graham), keeps cheating on his partner. And they’ve got a killer to find after a 12 year old girl is brutally murdered.
If Blood sounds like a TV drama, that’s because it is – the script is based on 2004 series Conviction – but Paul Bettany easily fills up the screen’s extra inches. Stomping around in a long trenchcoat like Columbo’s crazy cousin, he’s a wonderfully volatile presence; you never know when he’s going to start shouting at someone, get drunk or simply smack a guy with a spade.
It’s a shame, theme, that the rest of Blood is so ploddingly predictable. From confessions and quiet scenes of shock to smiling villains and family drama, it’s a familiar reunion for all those old British crime tropes. Fortunately, it’s a reunion with top-drawer refreshments; Murphy, who proved himself a dab directorial hand with The Awakening, creates a grim vibe with subtle flashes of style, lingering on cigarette ends lighting up in the dark amid the bleak locations. A moving Graham and stoic Strong, meanwhile, provide solid support, and Brian Cox’s ageing constable gives events a sharp pang of sadness.
But make no mistake: the show belongs to Bettany. His gradually imploding man is one of the most intense roles of his career, a small-scale chance to tackle the big issues. By sticking with his perspective, Murphy’s low-key thriller makes for a gripping examination of morals and police procedurals rather than a mere ITV clone. You may guess what’s going to happen, but how Bettany will react is never certain.
Oh yes, he’s one angry dude all right. And that’s precisely why we care so much.
Blood is available to watch on Netflix UK as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
Watch Blood online on pay-per-view video on-demand