Blood and Wine

They blew it, which takes some doing when you have Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine and Judy Davis in the same movie under the direction of Bob Rafelson, who paired with Nicholson so memorably in Five Easy Pieces. Throw in Stephen Dorff as Nicholson's stepson, who falls hard for the hot housekeeper (Jennifer Lopez) whom the old man is bedding, and you still can't work up a sweat. The plot, such as it is, involves a vintner (Nicholson) who plans to rob a rich client with the help of a con man (Caine) so he can leave his shrewish wife (Davis) and run off with the spitfire (Lopez) he loves.

What pleasures there are derive from watching Nicholson and Caine – two pros who deserve better material – play off each other. Sporting a bad dye job (is any hair that black?), a potbelly and a cough that Camille would envy, Caine is the epitome of seedy menace. And Nicholson, trying to rise to the occasion of a last fling at grand passion, exudes a touching gallantry with the luminous Lopez. The crime itself is as perfunctory as the stepfather-stepson confrontation on the open sea. Vintage actors in a leaky barrel add up to an opportunity pissed away.

From The Archives Issue 755: March 6, 1997