[box cover]

Blood Crime

The direct-to-cable genre is often maligned, but it has produced a few films of merit. Mostly through HBO, working for a cable can allow actors and directors the chance to create films the way they've wanted to do — as long as they can do it on the cheap. And sometimes cable buys a film that no one else wanted and gives it the exposure it needed (think Red Rock West). But anyone who goes in to a direct-to-cable movie looking for greatness will find that the odds are against them, even when talented people are involved. Just look at James Caan in 2002's Blood Crime: Though he can't stand as tall as many of the his peers from the '70s, Caan still is a talented actor and performer, and though probably not deserving of headlining efforts like previous co-stars Robert De Niro or Al Pacino, he should definitely be above doing crap like this. Directed by William A. Graham for the USA network, Blood Crime is a murder mystery that is only as good as Caan lets it be. The film stars Johnathon Scaech as Detective Daniel Pruitt, who's leaving the Seattle police force to work in a small town. On the long drive through scenic Oregon he and his wife Jessica (Elizabeth Lackey) plan to spend a night at a campground, but after getting directions at a local bar, and meeting some of the less distinguished townsfolk, Daniel leaves Jessica at the camp alone — only to return to find her beaten and raped. Driving her to the nearest hospital, he nearly gets into an accident with a trucker whom his wife identifies as her assailant, leading Daniel to pistol-whip him senseless. But at the hospital his wife is incoherent and reveals that her attacker may not have been the trucker. This means trouble for Daniel, as the sheriff in town (Caan) is the father of the trucker — who's now turned up dead. And though the trail has some points that lead to Daniel, he works with Caan to try and catch the killer while avoiding suspicion by hiding whatever evidence he can find. Shot like a TV movie, and — outside of James Caan — acted like a TV movie, there's no suspense wrung out of Blood Crime. But Caan is a wonderful actor, as he doesn't just phone it in, letting this constricted father's disappointment in his son and his death simmer through the film. Unfortunately, his performance doesn't save the movie from its rather loose plotting. Columbia TriStar's DVD offers the film in its original full frame (1.33:1) presentation and in Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras consist of bonus trailers. Keep-case.

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