All words: Alan Pyke
You’ve probably spitballed a movie idea or two with friends in your life. It starts with a kernel of a plot idea, or a character pairing with obvious resolvable tensions. Then you start trying to unfurl the kernel, get it to pop in your brain microwave. Maybe it did pop, right then when you were worrying at the kernel, a little drunk, a little high. Maybe it even blossomed on you. Shit, maybe you’re a screenwriter!
If so, please call the people who greenlit Blood Money. When they ignore you because they have manifest disdain for anything resembling quality storytelling or compelling narrative, your next call should be John Cusack’s agent. John, baby, my guy, what is you doing? Little that pays is beneath any man, and fair enough. But this one – this one was beneath you.
Here’s the plot kernel screenwriters Jared Butler and Lars Norberg, along director Lucky McKee, tried to hatch in Blood Money: A guy jumps out of a plane with $8 million in nonsequential hundreds, distributed over four duffel bags. Ready for a twist? The bags – he loses them! And then, shocker the second, they fall into Wrong Hands. Namely, those of three youths who have decided to go canoe camping for reasons explicable solely as “because the script said so.”
This is where you’d normally put a paragraph about these characters, the actors playing them, try to find something to say about their work. I refuse. They all sucked, even after accounting for the schlock they were handed to perform. No one involved in this movie should work again, unless it is at a more honest form of fraud, like investment banking.
These three kids hate each other, quite clearly from the jump. Have you ever gone camping with people you hated? No walls, no floor, big sky, smoky fire, yes let’s do that with people we hate. Who wouldn’t
No matter, at least if you’re cranking out screenplays like Blood Money. Who gives a fuck? The characters are there to find the money, attempt to make off with the money, fail a bit at making off with the money, then –maybe! – succeed at making off with the money. Pretty neat, right? No? Oh thank god. If any of this DOES sound good to you, go see Blood Money! You can buy tickets by sending $13 to [email protected] on PayPal. No it’s cool, show up and tell them I sent you, it’ll work.
Bad plots and bad writing have been rescued from themselves before in Hollywood. All it really takes, truth told, is a halfways creative eye at the camera. Yeesh. This is an unlovable movie full of unlovable people speaking words that were not well loved by them as written. Here’s a sample exchange, from the lurid, zany creative brainpan of Norberg and Butler:
“I want my money.”
[inaudible anxious cursing]
“Go ahead, fuck with me.”
This is a series of lines three humans say in Blood Money. Movie making being what it is, they probably had to say this series of lines more than once while people held large objects close to their faces but ever so slightly out of the camera’s ken. This was somehow not regarded as a human rights violation, probably because John Cusack was around, loudly wondering when the checks would clear, and nobody wants to bring Johnny Law down on a Cusack if they don’t have to. Frankly I shouldn’t work again for bothering to write this much about this movie, when “This sucks extremely much, but here’s a link to a good spotify playlist by weird uncle made” would have sufficed.
Listen, I’d love your $13 if you’re still reading. Daddy needs new shoes. But do yourself a favor and buy a half-decent old-fashioned somewhere instead. Maybe a couple copies of Street Sense, assuming you’re not the sort of asshole who refuses to acknowledge the city’s thousands of homeless strivers. Anything but this awful, bloodless catastrophe of a movie.