J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Blood Money: John Cusack Wants His Money Back

Judging from this film, one of the two credited co-screenwriters must have had one nasty breakup recently, because their protagonist is no mere femme fatale. She is a stone-cold mercenary viper. At least she sot of makes things interesting. Plus, for extra added VODness, there is John Cusack playing the whiny, motivationally challenged villain in Lucky McKee’s Blood Money (trailer here), which releases today on DVD.

Late in their senior year, Lynn briefly hooked up with her torch-carrying, dirt-poor platonic guy pal, Victor, but she has recently been seeing her other high school bestie dude, Jeff. While she is home from college, the trio decided to take a rafting trip together, because doesn’t that just sound like a super-fun time? Victor was already getting sick of it, before Lynn found eight million dollars stuffed in matching duffel bags. Of course, she wants to keep it and Jeff is too spineless to argue, but Victor wants to turn it over to the cops. Evidently, he is the only one of them who has seen A Simple Plan.

As you would expect, the man who packed that luggage wants it back. That would be Miller, a white collar D.B. Cooper wannabe, trying to set himself up off-the-grid, in style. Unfortunately, he will have to pry her cold, grubby hands off it.

Supposedly, Blood Money was intended as a loose riff on Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but that’s just crazy talk.  Frankly, this is a complete car crash of a movie, for many reasons, not the least being the ostensive villain spends the first half of the film laying on a picnic table, pining for a cigarette. By the time old Miller starts dispensing 1970s psycho-babble relationship advice to an oblivious Victor, we know this train is hurtling off the bridge. The only question is how much hang-time will it record. Unfortunately, stuff doesn’t really start to happen until about the fifty-minute mark, so that means we have to wait an interminably long time, while the characters just sit around, awkwardly looking at each other.

Forget what critics said about The Paperboy. John Cusack was terrible as the bad guy in that film, just like he looks completely out of place as Miller, the antagonist-heavy, but the character is such a nebbish villain, he is perversely suited to it. Admittedly, Willa Fitzgerald is all kinds of fierce as Lynn. She came to play, that’s for sure. On the other hand, Ellar Coltrane and Jacob Artist give Victor and Jeff personalities of cardboard, and co-screenwriters Jared Butler and Lars Norberg endowed them the intuition of damp lint.

Still, you have to feel for Butler or Norberg, because one of them most of had his heart eviscerated. That’s the only way to write a character like Lynn. What can we say? Love stinks, yeah, yeah. In this case, it takes a ponderous excuse for a wilderness survival thriller and gives it an elephant syringe full of adrenaline through the breastplate in the final twenty-minutes. That is something, but it is baffling how a notable horror-genre helmer like McKee could let the film wallow in lethargy for so long.

Blood Money is a perfect example of why more critics should review B-movies, because its dubious decisions deserve our bemused attention. Not really recommended, in any way, shape, or form, Blood Money is still exponentially more interesting than Singularity, so maybe we can consider it a rebound for Cusack, if we grade on a generous curve. Blood Money releases today on DVD, so have fun sports fans.

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