Every time there is a new a new John Cusack movie, I feel it should be celebrated. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why his career seems to go up and down in Hollywood. He started out in those Brat Pack movies, holding up boom boxes outside girls windows, to being a hitman at his high school reunion, to just hanging out in a haunted hotel room with Samuel L. Jackson. John Cusack has been around a long time, and we take that for granted.
I thought after 2014’s Love & Mercy he was finally going to get some recognition he deserves (he’s terrific as Beach Boy Brian Wilson), but alas, he disappeared again. Cusack returned this year with the thriller Blood Money, and I was all in.
From the beginning I was invested. Not only is Cusack in this, but we have Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), Willa Fitzgerald (Scream Queens) and Jacob Artist (Glee). This is a talented cast that can take a predictable story and make it something special. That story is simple; three friends camping in the woods discover millions of dollars in the woods and decide to keep it. They soon realize the money has a rightful owner (Cusack) and he begins to hunt them down as they start to turn on one another.
You’ve seen this before, probably better. However what holds this all together is John Cusack’s performance. You get the sense that he’s not truly a bad guy (though he does bad things) and he’s not really comfortable in this criminal persona. His bumbling efforts seem to make the situation worse even though he doesn’t mean to. This alone holds the movie together as every time he is on screen, he owns it. He is chewing scenery and loving it. It’s probably the most fun I’ve seen him have in a long time.
The story chugs along at the speed of a power walker at your local gym, which helps its short 89 minute run time. However this is the problem I began to have. We have the character of Lynn (Fitzgerald), she is obsessed with the money and keeping it. She went from that girl next door you sympathize with, to a greedy self-absorbed sociopath. This transition is quick and feels unearned. That, coupled with her weak motivations really leaves us with an uneven character that I didn’t much care about.
This led me to having more questions than answers. The plot moves at such a brisk pace and focuses on the tension and acting that it forgot about the story. Where did the money come from? Why did John Cusack’s character need it? Why did (spoiler) go with (spoiler) if (spoiler) (spoiler) (spoiler)? These missing pieces hinder the overall story, but damn if it’s still not an entertaining ride
Blood Money is a solid thriller that shows just how good John Cusack can still perform. Even with odd character motivations and more questions than answers in the plot, it still delivers on a fun, tension fueled ride with a few (darkly) humorous moments.