Watching Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine and Stephen Dorff circling each other like hungry sharks, you get a vague feeling of déjà vû. Blood&Wine, which is expertly handled by director Bob Rafelson, looks suspiciously like a '90s remake of some old crime noir. But it's not. It's just that this star-studded robbery movie feels old. Its story is, as they say, timeless: a tale of greed, misfortune and backstabbing that relies on the interplay of the characters first, the plot second and the setting a distant and rather unimportant third.
Like all the best heist films, Blood&Wine is built on the simple notion that nothing goes to plan. When Gates' wife Suzanne catches him packing for New York - his extra ticket for the sultry "Oh look, my clothes have fallen off" Gabriella rather than his spouse, - she's understandably peeved, whacking hubby over the head with a golf club. Grabbing the suitcase, she and son Jason (Dorff) run off... unaware that Big Jack's valuable, illegal acquisition - of a diamond necklace is stashed in the luggage's lining.
Rather than concentrate on the mechanics of this small-time heist, the film follows the portly Nicholson and Caine as they track the necklace down. A deteriorating business relationship soon leads to tension between the two crooks, and when Dorff starts to fall for Nicholson's mistress, the film canters smoothly towards an exciting finale.
It's precisely this tension between characters that keeps Blood&Wine rolling along at an interesting pace. Everybody here gets his or her own standout scene or scenes, while the sharp dialogue and assured performances never quite hide the potential for violence that's continually bubbling away under the surface. Caine is delightfully sleazy, Davis determined and Lopez stunningly alluring. Even the annoyingly louche Dorff manages to simmer on screen and Jack Nicholson is... well, he's Jack Nicholson, all teeth and gravelly growl. Although Blood&Wine feels oddly familiar - the sort of film you'd watch on a lazy Sunday, just after Football Italia - it's consistently entertaining and classily made. Veer away from this month's empty blockbusters and take a closer look - you won't be disappointed.