Feeling more like a mid-season episode of some television detective serial than a self-contained film all its own, "Blood" is a dour British crime drama that lacks much of a beating heart.
Directed by Nick Murphy from a screenplay by Bill Gallagher, the story is set amid a small coastal town near an island that is cut off when the tides roll in, creating a place where locals often try to store their secrets. That includes a brother detective duo (Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham) who learned their trade from their father (Brian Cox), now retired from police work and slipping into dementia.
Employing old-school roughhouse tactics, they accidentally kill a suspect and frantically try to hide what they've done before they are found out by a fellow cop (Mark Strong). As their thin rationalizations for what they've done slip away, they both lose their grip on reality.
The film has such a relentlessly bleak way about it — from the overly emotional performances to its unforgiving, gray color scheme — that it gives itself nowhere to go, as things look and feel terrible right from the start. There is certainly an enviable cast with reliable talents like Bettany, Graham, Strong and Cox, but each of them seems lost in their own way. Graham in particular is an explosive actor allowed here to unravel too quickly and too broadly.
"Blood" feels perfunctory, needing something besides fussy plotting to jolt it to life.
"Blood." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes. Playing: At the AMC Burbank Town Center 8.