The year 1974 provides the setting for director Guillaume Canet’s Blood Ties. And how. Every glued-on sideburn points to itself excitably, vintage Buicks arranged just-so on the streets of New York. Even the casting gets in on the act, with James Caan as the father of brothers on either side of the law. The younger, Frank (Billy Crudup), is a cop already tripping over his ethical two left feet by the time we meet the elder, Chris (Clive Owen), a hardened hoodlum just out of prison. As Chris returns home, old tensions bubble, fates take shape, and Canet seizes every chance to let you know how much he loves early-70s US cinema. “I want you to be the kid’s godfather,” one character says. Such is the mood of self-conscious film buffery, you wait for the reply: “I want to be the godfather too.”
Remade from a 2008 French thriller, Blood Ties has a heart of plastic. Yet there’s a sturdiness to the script, and the performances are real enough to crackle.