J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Blood Brother: Cop and Robber


Alas, this film tells us to forget social mobility. In the rough & tumble outer wards of New Orleans, friendship is destiny. No matter how hard you try to rise above your humble origins, your friends will keep dragging you down. That is particularly true for Sonny. He went straight, becoming an undercover cop, but his old running mate is determined to pull him back into the criminal lifestyle in John Pogue’s Blood Brother (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New Jersey.

Fifteen years ago, Sonny, Jake Banning, and two other delinquent friends happened across an armored car robbery that went sour for everyone. Both sides shot each other dead, except for one of the guards, whom Banning finishes off. He is sentenced to hard time, but gets out early due to good behavior. In the meantime, Sonny has gone straight. He was in a committed relationship with Megan, broke up with her, and has tentatively started reconnecting, while still trying to act as a father figure for her younger sister Darcy.

When Banning gets out, the four finally split the loot they made off with on that fateful day. He insists there are no hard feeling, especially towards Sonny, since the guilt-wracked cop was the only on who visited him in prison. However, he quickly kills their two former accomplices, doing his best to implicate Sonny in the crimes. To draw out his supposed friend, Banning also starts seducing the cluelessly rebellious Darcy, like Max Cady in Cape Fear.

Blood Brother has two major motivational-credibility issues. It is hard to believe how suddenly Banning down-shifts from aw shucks loyal pal to a manipulative, vengeance-seeking sociopath. It is also tough to accept the remorseful cop would try to hold back the better portion of the heist loot, considering how much he has to lose, yet he does.

If viewers get past some highly dubious decision-making, Blood Brother is not a bad film. Both Trey Songz and Jack Kesy are suitably intense and gritty as Sonny and Banning. In fact, they produce a fair degree of sparks when they face-off. Joy Lofton is also terrific as Sonny’s sarcastic, long-suffering colleague Lorna.

Throughout the film, Pogue is clearly just as uncomfortable handling Sonny’s inter-personal relationships as tightly-wound character is himself. It is also a shame a film set in New Orleans does not incorporate any of the local music and culture to speak of. Nevertheless, the violently tragic nature of the two antagonists’ fraying friendship is surprisingly compelling. It is definitely a mixed bag, but there is more to Blood Brother than it is likely to get credit for from closed minded critics. Maybe worth a look-see when it hits streaming services, Blood Brother opens this Friday (11/30) in Jersey, at the Fabian 8.

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