There's always something to be said for a quick and efficient crime thriller that introduces its characters and premise in an efficient manner, and then keeps throwing you bloody curve balls before jolting to a finish in less than 90 minutes. The new Canadian flick Cold Blooded isn't exactly deep, dense, or swollen with subtext, but it does offer a great female lead, a rather novel plot hook, and it keeps you interested in between the action bits. That last part is always important in a low-budget thriller, and it's something that writer/director Jason Lapeyre is aware of. It only takes some simple but strong dialogue, a few interesting characters, and something the audience can root for (or against), and then they're putty in a filmmaker's hands.
It's a simple flick, but Cold Blooded is also a very fun flick. It's about a young cop (Zoie Palmer) who is assigned to guard a sleazy diamond thief (Ryan Robbins) as he heals, chained to a hospital bed. But seeing that Officer Frances is a kind soul, and that the criminal Cordero is a devious lout, a simple trip to the bathroom turns into an escape attempt, which quickly blossoms into sort of a bloodbath. Cordero has stolen some very valuable diamonds, you see, and that's why the outrageously nasty Holland (William MacDonald) and his gang of thugs have invaded the all-but-abandoned hospital wing. The only thing standing between Holland and his diamonds is Officer Frances, and he has no problem slicing her hand off to escape from her handcuffs.
Fortunately the film takes place in a hospital, which means that Frances is able to heal up, mostly, and then go on the hunt for the gang of vicious bastards who want to kill her fugitive. (Also, she needs to get her hand back so a helpful doctor can, you know, stitch it back on.) That's pretty much the long and the short of Cold Blooded: a cool cop with a missing hand, a scummy villain, an amoral diamond thief, a helpful doctor, several thugs, and a deserted hospital wing. If that sounds like a fun set-up, I can say that the presentation delivers. Ms. Palmer is quite excellent throughout, never wimpy and never so tough that she strains credibility. Robbins is enjoyably duplicitous as a character you want to like, but probably shouldn't; Huse Madhavji adds some color as a doctor who goes from obnoxious to admirable in a few dark scenes; and the prolific character actor Bill MacDonald is absolutely great as a devious villain who is both ruthless and ironically amusing.
There's nothing here that re-invents the wheel, but kudos to the people who at least make good wheels. For a low-budget Canadian export, Cold Blooded is shot quite well, scored quite smoothly, and (especially) cut like a fast-paced dream. The cast is uniformly strong, the premise has a nice hook, and things actually get pretty dark and nasty before all is said and done. Fun stuff.