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  Blood and Money Pray For The Prey
Year: 2020
Director: John Barr
Stars: Tom Berenger, Kristen Hager, Paul Ben-Victor, Jimmy LeBlanc, Mark Sivertsen, Brian Duffy, Ace Gibson, Ryan Homchick, Caroline Portu, Erica McDermott, Bates Wilder, Lisa Lynch, Melissa McMeekin, Gary Tanguay, David J. Curtis
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jim Reed (Tom Berenger) has made a lot of mistakes in his life, which is why he has ended up mostly alone, an alcoholic who spends his days hunting deer in the wilderness of the forests of Maine, which is the only pleasure he can take in life. He manages to bag a doe today, and lashes it to the front of his truck, but age and illness are starting to take their toll on his body, and nowadays it seems everything exhausts hm, though he is too proud and stubborn to do anything about his habit of occasionally coughing up blood. When he collapses the following day, he still ignores his symptoms, despite having passed out for a few hours, but soon he will have more to worry about when a gang of criminals arrive in the area...

Blood and Money was originally called Allagash, named after the place the action took place in the North East of The United States, but evidently someone wanted a more dramatic title. You can see why they did this, but the original title suited it better, since for the most part this was more contemplative crime drama than action thriller, though a thriller was a fair description of how it played out. But it also offered its ailing protagonist plenty of time to ruminate over his dilemmas, which only become worse as the story moves on, his body gradually giving up on him just as he finds a reason to carry on, even if that reason is to foil a bunch of bad guys and prevent them getting their hands on the loot they have stolen from a local casino.

Reed is a man with tragedy weighing on his mind, as we discover early on that his drinking led him to crash his car when he was younger, an accident that also killed his young daughter. The guilt has just about destroyed him, in fact you could say it is slowly ending his life as he staggers through what remains of it, trying to resist the bottle but finding he does not have any great motive to keep his health paramount when he could just as easily lost himself in oblivion. The white landscape is a kind of oblivion as well, of course, one that has the benefit of a solitary environment where Reed does not have to justify himself to anyone else, since there is nobody else around. So you see, this could just as easily have operated as an addiction drama that unfolded as a metaphor for hunting deer should writer and director John Barr have wished to go down that route.

Yet as if Barr was wary of getting too pretentious in his allegories or comparisons, after about half an hour the thriller elements began to assert themselves, kicking off when Reed accidentally shoots the girlfriend of one of the criminals as she was out in the forest trying to hide the loot. She dies in a welter of blood and he panics, leaving the corpse behind in the hope nobody connects it to him - but has he made sure there are no clues around that might do just that? We are told in a couple of captions at the start how remote this place is, which makes it more convincing that this situation could have happened the way it did, at least until the patently dying Reed holds his own against the ruthless gang and begins to pick them off one by one. This turn into Rambo territory was predictable, perhaps, and maybe implausible too, but the pace remains deliberate, to make us feel every rasping breath the hero takes, and Berenger proved himself more than able to command the screen in his Autumn years, despite a career of ups and downs. He was good to watch, but action fans may find this too slow. Music by Zak McNeil.

[Signature Entertainment presents Blood and Money on Digital HD 16 October and DVD 19 October 2020.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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