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Review: Blood For Dust – “Reminiscent of an episode of Breaking Bad”

Scoot McNairy stars as Cliff, a travelling salesman in this dusty western that threatens to put you on the edge of your seat but instead keeps the audience frozen in nervous suspense. Set in the early 1990s, Blood for Dust starts true to its name with blood sprayed over the walls in an office block. From then on you’re left considering if the murky intentions of the lead will ever come to the fore or be left in the rear-view.

Cliff walks through the film stony-faced, he’s not disinterested just preoccupied with making his sales. Rather predictably, when Cliff is let go from his job, his old colleague Ricky walks back into his life with a money-making opportunity too good to pass up. An overnight ride with a car full of drugs in return for a quick buck is worth the risk Cliff considers. His resolve is balanced against Ricky, who sports a sinister grin but is also charming as Ricky is played by Kit Harington. Ricky chews, sneers and swears through each scene so much you’d think it was obvious that he’s only got bad ideas, but then he gives a Kit Harington smile and it throws you off-balance.

The film treads familiar ground. Barren landscapes, Stetsons and handlebar moustaches punctuate the scenery. It is only when we reach the midway point and learn more about Cliff that the film stands out.

Given an R rating, the film is not in a hurry to exploit itself. Sure there is blood and nudity but it’s not gratuitous. Even when Cliff and Ricky meet in a strip club, neither is particularly interested in being there. Similarly, the action is sparing to the point where you wonder if Cliff will walk away from it all without a bullet fired. Reminiscent of an episode of Breaking Bad, Blood for Dust has as much time for the characters as it does the drug deals. Slowly building the pieces for a sturdy, familiar film.

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