Movie Review - Blue Ruin

This movie is essentially an extended episode of Breaking Bad on AMC and Justified on FX. It deals with the kind of characters and criminals in which Justified revels. Its construction and pacing is very reminiscent of the construction and pacing of a Breaking Bad installment. It's a Hatfields and McCoys kind of scenario. It mostly plays out in rural Virginia, but the movie kicks off on Delmarva, specifically on the shores of Delaware.

Macon Blair stars as Dwight Evans, a man possibly in his early to mid thirties, maybe older. At the start, he's homeless. He has long hair on his head and a very long beard. He collects cans along the beach. He sleeps in a beat-up, Pontiac Bonneville that used to belong to his sister Sam, played by Amy Hargreaves. He digs through dumpsters for food and breaks into summer homes that are still vacant for baths and showers.

It's easy to recognize his beach side home is Delaware due to a shot of Dolle's candy store along the boardwalk. His drifter lifestyle is interrupted when a local cop informs him of someone's release from prison who is related to him, but not by blood. This activates Dwight and sends him on a mission to confront this released inmate.

What follows is writer-director Jeremy Saulnier's methodical charting of the two or three-day time period of Dwight carrying out his revenge plan and igniting a backwoods war between two families. Dwight has to wield a knife and a gun and be a bit of a tough guy, but underneath the Duck Dynasty lies a dorky and preppie, anxious, white guy who seems innocuous if you passed him on the street. His quick rise to a bad-ass is very reminiscent of Walter White.

The movie goes to Virginia and briefly in Kentucky, which is where Justified is set. The other characters in the warring families look as if they could have walked right off that FX series. Either that or Winter's Bone! Chief among them is Devin Ratray (Home Alone and Nebraska) who plays Ben Gaffney, an ally in Dwight's war.

Saulnier's thriller doesn't say anything more about revenge than the old adage, "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind." In this case, a life for a life leaves everyone dead. Saulnier spills a lot of blood and often does so right in the foreground of the camera. The methodical nature and realness of the fights push the movie more toward genuine horror.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 31 mins.


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