March 21, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Long

Review: 'Blood Ties' is familiar crime saga, delivered clumsily

Clive Owen stars as a man just released from prison and Marion Cotillard plays his former wife in 'Blood Ties.' (Roadside Attractions)

“Blood Ties” is one weird bird of a movie.

It’s a Brooklyn crime saga filmed by a French director, based on a French movie that was based on a French book. Why not just shoot it in Paris?

Because, apparently, director Guillame Canet was dreaming of having a Martin Scorsese moment. That didn’t happen.

Although the film boasts an impressive cast — who were surely inspired by Canet’s riveting “Tell No One” — its overall tone is perhaps best represented by Marion Cotillard’s accent here, an inexplicable mix of Brooklynese and Italian undermined by her native French. It just doesn’t gel culturally.

It also doesn’t help that this is another tired good brother-bad brother epic wannabe. Cain and Abel may be classic stuff, but it’s been done to death.

The bad brother here would be Chris (Clive Owen), just getting out of prison in the early 1970s after 12 years. The good brother is Frank (Billy Crudup), a cop who lets Chris move in with him and helps him get a job.

Chris has an ex-wife (Cotillard) and a couple of kids. Frank, meanwhile, is stalking an old girlfriend (Zoe Saldana), whose husband he just put behind bars.

Before long, Chris returns to his bloody criminal ways, acquiring a well-meaning, if apparently blind fiancée (Mila Kunis) who asks no questions. But Frank finds himself in bad with the police force because of his brother’s exploits.

There are numerous family fistfights — James Caan plays father to the brothers — romantic complications and shootouts, all of which are unfortunately familiar while at the same time oddly out of sync. The performers carry on — Owen is particularly good — but this bird doesn’t fly.

'Blood Ties'


Rated R for violence, pervasive language, some sexual content and brief drug use

Running time: 127 minutes

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