Blood Ties (2013)

Starring: Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, James Caan, Marion Cotillard, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Lili Taylor, Noah Emmerich

Directed by: Guillaume Canet

Rating: 1 2 and a half

Clive Owen and Billy Crudup as rival brothers in Blood Ties'If you like The Departed, you'll like Blood Ties.' So my BT Vision box office assured me. It was lying. Well, maybe not lying exactly, more like... exaggerating. Because while The Departed is (according to me) 'a cinematic tour de force', Blood Ties is, well, kinda meh.

Clive Owen sheds his English oak persona (sort of) to play low rent Noo Yawk hoodlum Chris, recently released from prison to live with his brother, Frank (Billy Crudup). Total Schwarzenegger/De Vito opposites, one has to wonder how these two can possibly be related. Frank, a cop, is tiny and skinny and looks as if he couldn't arrest a felon if his life depended on it. Chris is huge, hulking, violent and looks like Tom Jones. But then again their dad is played by James Caan and their sister by Lili Taylor (last seen levitating round a cellar in The Conjuring) so I guess anything goes.

Chris goes straight for all of five minutes (although it feels a lot longer...) before taking up once more with his ne'er do well pals and planning hits and heists, putting Frank in a somewhat awkward position with his buddies on the force. Meanwhile, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis and Zoe Saldana hang around in the background looking thin and '70s-ish and don't do a great deal – what a waste! The '70a styling can be fun and there are a couple of fairly exciting moments, but on the whole the film is all a bit grey and dull, lacking both the visceral, stressful intensity and the tacky glamour and pizazz of a really great gangster saga like Mesrine or Goodfellas. Is it worth sloughing through two hours for the pay off at the end? The jury's out on that one.

In short: 'if you like The Departed, you'll think Blood Ties isn't nearly as good.' But that won't sell many downloads.

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