Case Number 02651: Small Claims Court


Sony // 2002 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // February 22nd, 2003

The Charge

It isn't always quiet in the country...but it sure is stupid!

The Case

Pruitt is a retired police detective from Seattle who practically defined the phrase "justifiable homicide while in the line of duty." Either that or "internal affairs investigation." When he and his pug-faced wife decide to camp it up under the Oregon stars, it's not long before beefy Deliverance types show up for some classic car tips and a little recreational sexual assault. As the lax lawman heads off to the plot Convenience Store to purchase a clue Slurpee, sleeping bags are tussled. One two-lane highway later, and the offended officer confronts the bad spouse toucher for a little Pacific Northwestern justice. Well, one gunshot leads to another, and before you can say "pistol whipped," the accused rapist is pushing up portabellas, the irritated inspector is wrestling with his guilty conscience, and the local sheriff is...well, he's kinda sleepy. See, the dead guy was his wayward son, a shlub who worked for a company that specializes in shady dealings and kickbacks from Native American casino owners. And all this woodland warden wants to do is find the bastard who did the beating, dispense some frontier "forgiveness," and then take a nap. Will he discover that it was the displaced detective, someone else, or any of the remaining 88-minute long red herrings that committed this Blood Crime? Or will he just catch some Z's?

Recently, archeologists digging at a site near what was once ancient Aramathea uncovered a rare papyrus that contained a few pages of hard to decipher Sanskrit. Scholars pouring over the delicate, obtuse manuscript spent countless hours translating the text and organizing the stanzas. And...surprise, they found buried within the scroll the moldering, old as Methuselah's anal fissures formula used by cable channel USA Network for the creation of its made-for-television thrillers. As unluck would have it, just days after the monumental discovery, the first rancid bit of balderdash to come leaching out of this infected wound of a studio was Blood Crime. Now, it may be unfair to criticize a movie for being plebian, rote, boring, and illogical, but when faced with the offense to the senses that is this stale who-dumb-it, calling it clichéd would be like caressing it with fluffy kittens. This movie reeks like baby's urine-soaked training pants and is far more offensive. No attempt is made at engaging the audience. Plot points are passed around like chronic at a Snoop Doggy Dogg video shoot, and the only suspense generated is whether or not James Caan's William Shatner Brand girdle will fail. There is just nothing going on here. The characters are ciphers without anything to distinguish them from landfill. The setting is dark and laborious (even if it is the Northwest -- or better yet Tolkien's New Zealand standing in for the Pacific coast) and any movie that decides to "forewarn" the audience about trouble on the horizon by playing stock footage of time lapsed storm clouds brewing deserves a scathing rebuke. The whole motion picture is like one great big game of Formulaic Film Family Feud. You'll find yourself calling out the typical narrative suspects ("unborn child!" "corrupt official!") like you're playing for the big money with a paunchy Richard Dawson. Survey says -- this sucks!

It really is hard to blame the actors, but it's genuinely fun to do. Someone needs to tell Jonathon Shaechi that That Thing You Do is supposedly called acting. His character and performance are stuck with a face full of wild rice stubble, a permanent glower, and the kind of one note-won't emote stiff line reading that you'd except from a disgruntled, opiate addled porn star. Caan, so many light years away from his stellar work in The Godfather that he's hanging out at Boba Fett's cabana whispers all his lines in an "Annie Wilkes Might Hear Me" attempt at quiet dignity. All he manages to save of his personal integrity is his vocal chords. Since they are the one-two combination in this sucker punch of a project, it's a safe bet that if you don't find their fight for the truth and interpersonal conversations about vigilante justice compelling, the rest of the movie will be like soaking your paper cuts in pickle brine. Director William A. Graham, a once mighty force in tele-visual law enforcement (with credits as diverse as Ironsides and Get Christy Love) must have developed a severe case of artistic Alzheimer's in his later years of life. At age 70, he shows very little pacing, almost zero skill at building suspense, and couldn't get the audience to care about the final reveal and resolution if he was offering yummy s'mores or a high colonic along with every viewing. Blood Crime just sputters statically until it wilts.

Columbia TriStar redefines the entire digital genre by providing something that purports to be a DVD with some manner of cinematic entertainment encoded on it; instead, this is just a plastic disc full of Made for Television trash. The full screen image is presented in the visual equivalent of a short wave radio transmission from Siberia, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo offers a wide variety of immersive options: everything from "left channel" to "right channel." To further confuse the lover of obnoxious cable piffle, the cover boasts a collection of "bonus" trailers, but who wants to see ads for better films like Spider-Man when you're facing the possibility of sitting through this nauseating nonsense? Blood Crime is the kind of movie where a character's crazed reaction (a post-assault shout of "it was him!") is supposed to justify the amoral mayhem and self-righteous vigilantism. But it's all a charade, a continuing con from a network that's convinced it's making viable viewing product, when the truth be told, they're simply scrapping deer dung off their L.L. Bean hiking boots and calling it entertainment. And don't be thrown by that psychotic shout of actress Elizabeth Lackey. She wasn't really marking (or mis-marking) her attacker for easy lawmanhandling. Her agent just happened to be on set that day, and she was indicating to the audience the person responsible for her involvement in this piece of pig's garbage. This movie is not just a Blood Crime. It's a bloody shame.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 26

Perp Profile
Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* English
* Chinese
* French
* Korean
* Portuguese
* Spanish
* Thai

Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Trailers

* IMDb