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Blood Money
cast: Andy Garcia, Ellen Barkin, Morgan Freeman, Michael Lombard, and John C. McGinley

director: Jerry Schatzberg

91 minutes (15) 1988 widescreen ratio 16:9
Prism DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Ian Shutter
Adequate if unremarkable little crime thriller with the kind of sleazily geopolitical backstory and conspiratorial intrigues that author Elmore Leonard can handle so well (much better than this subgenre offering, in fact). It was made for HBO cable and, despite its nondescript title - which has been used at least four or five times - Blood Money (aka: Clinton And Nadine), is watchable thanks to the Hollywood charisma and dynamic presence of its main cast.
   Lowlife smuggler Clinton Dillard (Andy Garcia) is shocked to find his brother has been robbed and murdered by a gang of Latin American hoodlums. Following clues derived from a snuff audiotape recording of another man being tortured to death, he tracks down ex-hooker Nadine Powers (Ellen Barkin), and the crooked lawyer Pratt (Morgan Freeman) who was mentioned incriminatingly on the tape, hoping they can lead him to his brother's killers...
   The plot is leisurely but never lazy in this standard revenge thriller, notable for the involvement of a retired US Army officer who's selling guns to the Nicaraguan contras. There's a shootout, a car chase, a punch-up, a confrontation down south, an imprisonment followed by an amusingly clever escape (urine, electricity, ouch!), a final showdown, and a welcome happy ending. This was Garcia before he was an experienced character actor, back when he was "wonderfully handsome with those intense eyes!" (or so my girlfriend says, anyway). He had been in De Palma's The Untouchables (1987) but had yet to reach the co-star A-list alongside Michael Douglas in Ridley Scott's Black Rain (1989). Barkin still exhibits trademark facial twitches. Having proved her star quality in Jim McBride's The Big Easy (1987), survived Mary Lambert's cult oddity Siesta (1987), she was on her way to better things - with Al Pacino, in the steamy murder mystery Sea Of Love (1989), and her comic tour de force role as a man in a woman's body, for Blake Edwards' otherwise tawdry Switch (1991). Freeman had done sterling work as the New York pimp of Street Smart (1987), before moving on to stardom - as the chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy (1989), a Civil War soldier in magnificent historical drama Glory (1989), then Eastwood's superb western Unforgiven, sadly overrated prison movie The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and, of course, David Fincher's brooding yet influential Seven.
   Perhaps the most interesting thing about Blood Money becomes evident only in retrospect, as we review it in light of the stars' later work. Although this is not cultworthy material the film does possess an unassuming class, due to the central performances that shine through all of the clichés and gross predictability. If you haven't seen this, and you're a fan of the stars, I think it's plenty good enough to grab your attention.
   The DVD has Dolby digital stereo audio plus English subtitles, but there are no disc extras.

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