‘Blood for Dust’ Review: ‘Breaking Bad’ Meets ‘Fargo’ in Rod Blackhurst’s Montana-Set Drug Smuggling Thriller | instastori.com

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A slow-burn Rocky Mountain noir group on nan corridor betwixt Billings, Mont., and nan Canadian separator — a cold, lonely agelong of road shared by salesmen and smugglers alike — “Blood for Dust” establishes a ruthless consciousness of sangfroid from its opening shot. On a table successful a bland business agency sits a family portrait, depicting a proud Marine and his family. Without warning, a shotgun goes off, splattering nan photograph and nan wall down it successful humor and encephalon matter. The camera pulls backmost to uncover nan aforesaid man, his look half-missing, a briefcase afloat of rate propped unfastened connected his desk.

It’s a jarring — and jarringly artificial — scene. Fortunately, it’s nan only 1 that rings mendacious successful head Rod Blackhurst’s different tense, no-nonsense thriller, a standout of nan 2023 Tribeca Film Festival that merits comparison to “Breaking Bad” aliases “Hell aliases High Water,” but pinch snowfall alternatively of sand. Moments aft that opening weapon blast, “Game of Thrones” prima Kit Harrington (sporting a sleazy handlebar mustache) and Scoot McNairy (as his hangdog accomplice) show up, excessively precocious to prevention nan friend who offed himself. In taking his ain life, nan dormant man saved theirs. The mobility that lingers is really agelong their luck whitethorn last.

Tipping its chapeau to “Fargo” instantly aft this scene, nan movie serves up a sly motion to nan Coen brothers’ sub-zero crime classic: a high-angle changeable of a snowy parking lot, framed conscionable arsenic Roger Deakins mightiness person done it. Set successful nan early ’90s, erstwhile nan world was still analog, “Blood for Dust” trades connected nan aforesaid desperate-salesman energy, nan measurement master unit poisons nan home sphere. But location are nary cops sniffing astir here, conscionable men consenting and fresh to crook nan rule to their ain advantage.

McNairy and Harrington are Cliff and Ricky, 2 low-level hustlers who divided ways aft nan gory setback. Cliff tries to spell straight, peddling defibrillators from nan backmost of his Oldsmobile — a motion his profession is connected life support — whereas Ricky is simply a man without morals, moving narcotics and guns for nan worst benignant of clients. By nan clip nan pair’s paths transverse again a twelvemonth and a half later, it’s clear that Blackhurst (reuniting pinch “Here Alone” screenwriter David Ebeltoft) doesn’t put overmuch banal successful nan American dream, astatine slightest not successful nan ways a hardworking, churchgoing psyche is expected to supply for his family — what erstwhile was called “an honorable living.”

Reading betwixt nan lines, it’s clear that Cliff and his unquestioningly supportive wife, Amy (Nora Zehetner), person knowledgeable immoderate benignant of tragedy. What remains of nan now-childless couple’s narration is sustained by half-truths and hollow promises, spoken into salary phones on nan road. All passim — and up to nan Bible verse that serves arsenic an ominous benignant of coda — it feels arsenic if karma is catching up to Cliff, that past schemes could bring lethal consequences. To wit, Cliff loses his occupation aft a suspicious customer recognizes him from an earlier con.

Instead of telling Amy, he pivots to different plan, trying to coax a favour from an aged friend (Stephen Dorff), to nary avail. Running retired of options, Cliff has nary prime but to reteam pinch Ricky connected a reckless scheme to double-cross a supplier trader who, arsenic played by Josh Lucas (pitch-perfect successful a mini part), leaves small uncertainty that he’ll travel aft Cliff and everyone he loves should their ambitions get nan amended of them. Ricky is nan chaotic paper here, and Cliff figures retired beautiful quickly — aft watching his pal put a slug successful nan heads of a mates accomplices — that Ricky will plug him excessively arsenic soon arsenic he’s overstayed his utility.

Bolstered by a strong, poker-faced ensemble pinch nan bully consciousness to underplay immoderate menace each brings to nan table, “Blood for Dust” does a good occupation of making a acquainted gambit consciousness unpredictable. There’s nary measurement Cliff’s caller gig will spell smoothly, and yet, Blackhurst keeps america guessing arsenic nan hostility mounts — arsenic successful a segment erstwhile Slim (Ethan Suplee), nan dense sent to travel Cliff connected his maiden run, makes clear that he’s prepared to return retired nan driver who’s been tailing them since lunch: “Just beryllium friendly, and don’t thin forward,” Slim instructs Cliff, cocking his pistol. In Blackhurst’s world, it’s amended to sprout earlier nan different feline gets a chance.

The helmer, amended known for his nonfiction true-crime projects (namely, “Amanda Knox” and “John Wayne Gacy: Devil successful Disguise”), treats action sequences pinch a startling consciousness of calm. When things yet do erupt — arsenic they inevitably do successful not one, but 2 spectacular weapon battles — Blackhurst and DP Justin Derry shape those scenes for illustration hardboiled pros. The unit doesn’t look to tweak their bosom rates successful nan slightest, which makes nan bloodshed each nan much brutal. The movie looks terrific: shades of copper, group disconnected by stark widescreen snowscapes and deep, acheronian shadows. There’s a consistency to it each that our weary-looking antihero would o.k. of. As Cliff himself sees it, nan cardinal to being a bully salesman is keeping one’s communicative straight.