Blood for Dust

Blood for Dust
Blood for Dust
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Rod Blackhurst directed Blood for Dust from a dynamite script he penned with David Ebeltoft. “Breaking Bad meets Fargo” is how Variety described it, and that’s not too far off, Scoot McNairy (True Detective, The Comey Rule) nails the role of Cliff – our average joe salesman trying to make an extra buck in tough times. Sounds like everybody.

Blood For Dust takes us back to 1990s America specifically in some tri-state area and is consistently well acted making a poignant statement about what we would do for money? While we have seen this story play out before, the cast makes it worth seeing as both its universal themes of economic hardship and great cast shows.

Sadly, Jon Snow won’t be getting a Kit Harington Game of Thrones spinoff; however, this isn’t really an issue because there are other high-quality projects that he has lined up. One such example is Blood for Dust where his character Ricky is miles away from being the beloved hero in HBO’s award-winning series. Ricky recruits struggling family man Cliff (McNairy) into assisting him with a drug-running operation masterminded by hotheaded mobster John (Josh Lucas who reminds us of his acting range we haven’t seen before). Wait until you see the terrifying “job interview” where Ricky brings Cliff to meet John and get vetted for the gig.

But first let us look at how Cliff got into this kind of trouble. We find out later on about their dark pasts which draws them into this situation risking it all. In order to secure another job quickly, Cliff looks through his list of contacts but nobody will take him on board including Gus one of his former colleagues (the always appealing Stephen Dorff). “I don’t need a salesman,” he tells Dorff when they meet up again after all these years at lunch time suggesting that being radioactive may be more than just something called.

The supporting cast in Blood for Dust are standouts. Slimmed-down Ethan Suplee (The Wolf of Wall Street) is barely recognizable to millennials from his time as the big bully in Boy Meets World on Disney Channel. So, in this new film, John becomes a cartel boss and assigns some duty to one of his guys Slim (Ethan Suplee). With Slim always acting like a professional with furrowed brows and watching his six, Cliff roams about the tri-state region all day with a car trunk full of mysterious things inside it. Is there any tail on them? Does Cliff really know what’s going on?

There are at least a couple of false alarms and red herrings that will keep you gnawing at your fingernails throughout Blood for Dust, regardless of whether you know where this is all going. Co-writer/director Blackhurst isn’t trying to make this a Hallmark Christmas experience, in case you were wondering. Once Cliff and Slim are out on the job, it doesn’t take a film expert to see disaster looming. But invariably Reckless Ricky shows up again – with a face like Harington’s, he can’t stay off screen for long even if he has some terrible facial hair on him. Result? Chaos ensues further.

Dogs are known as man’s best friend but in modern America, it would be justified to argue that it is not such a friendly world around. Headlines scream about massive layoffs; we feel similar economic vibes when watching a 90s-focused thriller such as Blood for Dust. McNairy also starred in Killing Them Softly (2012), which similarly made powerful statements about the difficult times we live in here in the U.S. of A. For those guys who might have had these uncomfortable talks with their wives concerning career downturns, failed expectations and much more because money was tight, this scene between Amy (Nora Zehetner) and Cliff could possibly strike them right in the feels.

Blood for Dust has an indie feel which makes its contained nature clear— though budgetary constraints may have prevented it from being a more impactful one — yet it still manages necessary thrills like having an elaborate gunfight during an ever-tensing third act shooting spree. Although what precipitates this particular shootout is rather predictable.

But watching Cliff struggle despondently against his hopeless situation— led by the crime— is still hilarious to me! Once a crook always? Probably not so though. Yet as his hero Aniston delivers something very unique indeed describing how a good person can be seen in different ways thus making us question ourselves about what we would do during emergencies.

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