A diamond robbery leads to complications and spilt blood for a Miami wine merchant and an ailing safe cracker.
Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson have a history: they first collaborated in 1968 when Rafelson directed and Nicholson wrote the Monkees' art movie Head. In the '70s, they made the moment-catching Five Easy Pieces and the even more brilliant The King Of Marvin Gardens. If their The Postman Always Rings Twice remake was disappointing, their last collaboration (1992's Man Trouble) suggested irrevocable decline. It's bittersweet to report that Blood And Wine, by no means a disaster, is a long way from being a return to form.
Miami wine merchant Alex (Nicholson) is married to a limping drudge (Judy Davis), whose grown-up son Jason (Dorff) divides his time between shark fishing, working in the family business and hating his stepfather. Through his girlfriend (Jennifer Lopez), a Cuban maid, Alex gains entry to a wealthy household, which is robbed by his friend Victor (Caine), a terminally ill burglar. Various cock-ups lead to Alex losing the booty to Jason, several people getting brutally killed, an unconvincing relationship developing between Jason and the chiquita, and ironic fate closing in.
It's especially sad to see acknowledged greats imitating younger talents, as Rafelson fumbles with the sort of set-up that the Coen Brothers have mastered; Blood And Wine comes off poorly set beside Blood Simple or Fargo. Nicholson and Caine may be living legends, but they coast here with puffy faces and lazy mannerisms. Nicholson, in particular, is threatening to join Sean Connery and Gene Hackman in that class of movie star whose greatness we have to take on trust as they lope non-committally through yet another movie they manifestly don't give a damn about.
This feels old-fashioned, with stars who eclipse their characters, and miss the point of the traps of plot and personality that power the Coens' films. Dorff is a nonentity supporting hero, leaving Davis and Lopez to etch the only fully rounded characterisations. Though the plot ambles sunnily around Florida, neither the specific regional background nor the title-justifying but irrelevant oenological milieu connects with the crime plot.
There are flashes of interest, but few and far between.