Blood for Dust movie review & film summary (2024)

Cliff has a friend named Ricky (Kit Harington of “Game of Thrones”), a self-styled bad boy with a smirky face, a whooping laugh, an infectious self-confidence, and some of the least flattering facial hair you’ve ever seen. Ricky knows Cliff is struggling and offers him a chance to make a lot of money all at once by serving as sort of a mule, driving guns into Canada, trading them for drugs and driving back (or the reverse). Ricky tells his contact on the American side of the border, a gangster named John (Josh Lucas, nailing the character’s reptilian swagger), that his buddy Cliff is perfect for that kind of work because he looks and acts like a milquetoast-normal guy who couldn’t hurt a fly even if he wanted to. John agrees, assigning Cliff a mission and teaming him with a henchman and “minder” named Slim (Ethan Suplee—another of the excellent character actors gathered in this cast, which also features Stephen Dorff, who played a Ricky-like character in the 1996 crime flick “City of Industry”). 

Things get darker and more disturbing from there. It’s best not to delve into the particulars, other than to say that there isn’t anything new here in terms of crime-movie situations, violent or otherwise (Ricky is very much a chaos-stirring “live wire” type, familiar from “Mean Streets,” “State of Grace,” “Menace 2 Society” and countless other crime flicks), and that the movie is less interesting when people are shooting each other than when they’re getting mad enough to consider drawing their guns in the first place; but also that, whatever its shortcomings, including too much solemnity and not enough jokes, there’s no denying that the film creates a powerful mood and sustains it.  

Cliff is a struggling salesman archetype, with all the burdens and secret corruption you’d expect from that kind of character. So, in a strange way, is Ricky, though he’s more of a cowboy. If these actors were cast in a revival of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” McNairy would be Shelly “The Machine” Levine,” who justifies his shabby hard-selling of worthless real estate on grounds that he has a very sick daughter in the hospital, and Harrington would be Ricky Roma, the hotshot who brags about the big fish he’s landed and holds forth on how bourgeois morality is for suckers.