“Blood & Gold,” the new WWII action-thriller available on Netflix, has a clear and unabashed objective: to present audiences with a relentless onslaught of Nazis meeting gruesome and over-the-top demises. Directed by Peter Thorwarth, this trashy yet audacious project doesn’t hold back when it comes to its graphic violence. While it offers moments of excitement and inventiveness in its early stages, the ceaseless carnage ultimately becomes numbing. This review explores the film’s plot, its audacious style, and whether it successfully achieves its grisly ambitions.
Blood & Gold: Plot Overview
Set against the backdrop of the closing days of World War II, “Blood & Gold” introduces us to Heinrich (played by Robert Masser), an unwilling soldier who has deserted his post and is on a desperate quest to find his young daughter, the sole surviving member of his family. His journey takes a brutal turn when he is captured by a squad of sadistic Nazis led by the enigmatic von Starnfeld (Alexander Scheer). As punishment, Heinrich is left hanging by his neck from a tree, intended to die a slow and agonizing death. However, fate intervenes as he is rescued just in time by Elsa (Marie Hacke), a local woman, and her mentally challenged younger brother, Paule (Simon Rupp).
Meanwhile, the Nazis, led by von Starnfeld, are on a mission of their own. They believe that a fortune in gold is hidden amidst the ruins of the home belonging to the only Jewish family in the nearby village of Sonneberg. During the early days of the war, the Jewish family was driven out of town, with the duplicitous mayor (Stephan Grossman) complicit in their expulsion. Now, the Nazis are determined to claim that gold for themselves. They settle into Sonneberg, planning to recover the gold before the imminent arrival of American forces.
As the plot unfolds, Heinrich, Elsa, and Paule’s paths inevitably intersect with the Nazis as they all become entangled in the hunt for the hidden gold. What follows is a relentless and increasingly violent showdown, all set against the ticking clock of the approaching American forces.
A Blend of Styles
“Blood & Gold” marks the second collaboration between director Peter Thorwarth and Robert Masser, following their previous film, “Blood Red Sky.” Thorwarth has a penchant for crafting action-driven narratives with an unconventional twist. While “Blood & Gold” incorporates elements of traditional WWII action films, it also brings a contemporary sensibility that embraces darkly comedic violence and an ironic use of needle drops on the soundtrack. The film’s script, penned by Stefan Barth, occasionally evokes the spirit of Quentin Tarantino’s works, particularly “Django Unchained” and “Inglourious Basterds.” The result is a film that revels in pulp fiction and genre conventions.
Audacious Grisly Violence
The film’s primary selling point is its unabashed commitment to grisly violence. “Blood & Gold” revels in delivering spectacularly gruesome and over-the-top deaths for its Nazi characters. In this regard, it distinguishes itself from other WWII action films. It’s worth noting that the violence in the film often reaches such cartoonish levels that it blurs the line between shock value and sheer absurdity. While some viewers may appreciate the audacity, others may find it excessive and numbing over time.
Plot and Character Development
“Blood & Gold” has a plot that may feel familiar, especially if you’ve seen recent films with similar themes. The narrative involves an unkillable protagonist, a hidden stash of gold, and hordes of Nazi soldiers who exist primarily as cannon fodder for violent set pieces. While the film starts with moments of invention and excitement, it gradually runs short of fresh ideas and ingenuity as it progresses. This leads to a somewhat monotonous viewing experience during the final stretch of the film, where the relentless violence takes center stage.
Style and Energy
Director Peter Thorwarth brings style and energy to the film, making it visually engaging. The color palette and visual choices, particularly the dominant use of black, effectively convey the dark and chaotic atmosphere of the closing days of WWII. The action sequences are well-executed, and the film maintains a fast pace throughout.
The cast of “Blood & Gold” delivers strong performances, with Robert Masser portraying the stalwart and resilient Heinrich. Marie Hacke stands out as Elsa, bringing depth to her character and providing a compelling counterpart to Heinrich. The performances help anchor the film amidst its relentless violence.
Influence of Tarantino
The influence of Quentin Tarantino’s style is evident throughout “Blood & Gold.” From audacious moments of darkly comedic violence to ironic needle drops on the soundtrack, the film pays homage to Tarantino’s signature elements. While this homage adds a layer of fun, it also highlights the film’s genre-conscious approach.
“Blood & Gold” is a film that aims to deliver an unapologetically violent and over-the-top WWII action-thriller experience. Whether it succeeds or not depends largely on your expectations and appetite for extreme violence. If you’re seeking a pulpy and gratuitously violent film that features Nazis meeting gruesome ends, “Blood & Gold” may offer some entertainment value, especially in its early stages.
However, the film’s relentless violence, while initially shocking and audacious, becomes numbing over time. It lacks the depth of character development and narrative intricacies that elevate films like Tarantino’s works. “Blood & Gold” begins to feel monotonous as it progresses, with the violent dispatch of Nazis taking precedence over plot and character development.
In the end, “Blood & Gold” is a film that thrives on shock value and excess. It caters to a specific audience seeking a relentless barrage of violent set pieces. If you’re constantly thrilled by CGI-enhanced bloodshed and have a high tolerance for brutality, this film might satisfy your appetite. However, for those looking for a more balanced and thought-provoking WWII action-thriller, “Blood & Gold” may fall short of expectations.
“Blood & Gold” is now available for streaming on Netflix, offering viewers an opportunity to witness its audacious and gruesome spectacle for themselves.