‘Blood For Dust’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Did Cliff Get Caught?


Rod Blackhurst’s Blood for Dust is an action crime thriller film starring Scoot McNairy and Kit Harrington. Cliff was part of a team working for Maridian, who sold dubious schemes and made tremendous profit out of them before their accountant killed himself. He was a talented salesman, but his past record interfered with possible job opportunities. After getting kicked out of a company selling heart zappers, he turned to his old contact from the scheming team, Ricky. His brief meeting with Ricky at the strip club was enough for him to understand that Ricky had gotten himself involved in illegal business once again. Cliff had no intention of reaching out to Ricky again. He preferred living his life as an honest salesman and saving for the treatment of his son. But when all the doors closed, Cliff found himself dialing Ricky’s number.

Spoiler Alert

What business was Ricky involved in?

Ricky was an arms dealer who also peddled drugs for cartels, and naturally, he was earning way more than any legal job could ever pay him. Cliff was not surprised when he figured out that Ricky thought he would be an ideal candidate to peddle drugs. He was a regular on that route, and neither his car nor his appearance would raise suspicion. Ricky introduced Cliff to his boss, John, who quite violently made it clear that Cliff would be killed if he dared to run away with either the drugs or the money. Since Cliff was new to the job, they could not trust him completely, which is why Slim was chosen to accompany him.

Cliff and Slim left the next morning to make the delivery, and while everything was going well, all of a sudden, Slim noticed a car following them. They waited at the rest stop to find out if the man was a threat. Cliff was relieved when they figured out that the stranger did not have any ill intentions. He could have attacked them if he had a motive, but he seemed harmless. The duo spent the night at a motel in Billings, Montana. While Slim updated his boss, Cliff left the motel to meet his old flame. As it turned out, Cliff had a brief affair with the accountant’s wife. He was responsible for getting her husband, Mark, involved in their scheming ways, and he blamed himself for the man’s death. Cliff always thought he owed it to Rebecca and her sons. Rebecca had not moved on; she always hoped they would get back together. Cliff felt extremely guilty after meeting Rebecca, and perhaps that was why he wanted to avoid the confrontation. Cliff ended up spending the night at Rebecca’s after he noticed the same car that was following them parked opposite her house.

Who was following Cliff and Slim?

The next morning, when Cliff woke up, the car was gone, and he met Slim at the motel. It was finally time to make the delivery at Ruby’s, and everything almost went as planned. Just as Cliff and Slim were about to receive the payment, a man knocked on the doors of the garage. Ruby’s gang stood in position, and as it turned out, the man on the other side was none other than Ricky. He spared Cliff and shot the rest dead. Ricky and Cliff grabbed the drugs and the bag full of cash. Cliff figured out that Ricky had planned on betraying John for quite some time. He was worried that the minute he stopped being useful, Ricky would get rid of him as well. Cliff also found out that the man who had been following him worked for Ricky. Ricky wanted to keep track of Cliff’s movement, and he lured a young man with drugs to do the work. Ricky ended up shooting him dead as well when his job was done.

What was Ricky’s plan?

Ricky used Cliff to distract John while he sold ammunition to the cartel he planned to blame the entire fiasco on. The clash would result in the deaths of John and his gang. John’s entire focus had been on testing Cliff’s loyalty, and that gave Ricky the freedom to carry on his operation. Ricky made Cliff contact John and update him about the shootout. As intended, they blamed it on another cartel. The next half of Ricky’s plan was to sell the drugs to a gang. Cliff realized that Ricky was his threat, and to protect himself, he contacted John. He confessed the whole truth to the gangster and hoped that he would interfere and help him out.

As they waited to sell off the drugs, Cliff got to learn a lot more about Ricky. From childhood, Ricky was taught to sell lies. His father abused him and his mother, and he lied about his bruises to his grandmother to not break her heart. Ricky’s childhood impacted his mindset, and the lack of a reliable father figure taught him to always hustle and make it big. The world had taught him that an honest living could never pay for his big dreams, and he went on risking everything he had. Ricky enjoyed the thrill of lying and not getting caught, and perhaps more than the money, he relished the risk that came with living on the edge. Cliff believed that, as good salesmen, it was their job to sell hope, and he did the same when it came to his wife. The reality was too brutal for him to discuss with her, so he chose to keep her in a bubble. He had convinced himself that lying was necessary, and as long as he could provide for his family, none of it would ever matter. Even though their lives were vastly different, Ricky and Cliff knew the sacrifices that came with becoming good salesmen.

What did Cliff do with the cash?

Ricky offered a steal of a deal to the gang that was interested in buying his product. The deal was too sweet for them to not consider the trouble that could come with it. The gang eventually agreed to buy it, but soon, John and his men arrived at the location. Cliff assumed John would spare him, but the gangster had already lost trust in him. After the shootout, only Cliff and Ricky survived. The money had doubled, and the coke stash came with the promise of more cash. Cliff knew he had only one option—kill Ricky. Ricky would have figured out that Cliff had snitched on him, and he would shoot him dead, and it all came down to survival and one man taking the prize.

During Blood for Dust‘s ending, Ricky was about to shoot Cliff, but Cliff, with his swift movement, shot Ricky before he could react. Ricky collapsed on the floor, and he clenched onto the suitcase full of cash. In his dying moments, he wanted to believe that he did end up a rich man. Cliff drove away with the money and drugs. He cleaned his car and drained out the coke, suggesting that he had no intention of doing the dirty work ever again. He wiped the blood off his face and kept aside a portion of the money. Cliff walked into the bar where Rebecca worked and handed it to her. The guilt was too much to live with, and even though money could not entirely fix his feelings, he tried his best to help. He could not commit to her emotionally, and ensuring her family’s well being was the least he could do for her. Cliff returned home and covered the bullet mark on his car with a sticker. This was not the end he expected, but deep down, he was also thankful for the way things turned out. He thought that the worst part was over.

What does the final scene suggest?

The delivery ended up in the most unexpected way, and Cliff did not have any reason to complain. To his surprise, he made it back home with a bag full of cash that would be enough to pay the bills for his son’s treatment. While getting involved with a drug cartel and using guns for self-defense was a first for him, Cliff had previously gotten involved in shady business. His justification for all his actions was simple: he was a father and a husband, and he was willing to go to any lengths for his son’s treatment. He was not in a position to make a morally right choice; he did what he assumed would be best for his family. Amy, too, had figured out the risk Cliff had taken, but instead of asking him about it, she chose to ignore it. The well-being of their son was their priority, and she did not care where the money came from as long as they could continue with the treatment. Cliff assumed he had no reason to worry about the aftermath. Everyone was killed except for him, and because he was a new recruit, the chances of anyone knowing him were quite slim.

Blood for Dust‘s ending hints at the possible threat Cliff had not considered. The final scene suggests that the police entered John’s den, and a photocopy of Cliff’s ID was on the desk. It would surely attract the attention of the police, because Cliff was the missing link in the case. In the end, it came down to the question of making the morally right choice, but did he have much of an option? He had no job and he was lured by the possibility of making a ton of money and getting away with it.  But then again, his intention was in the right place, but was that enough to justify his action? Was it the morally right choice? He took the bet, thinking there would be no consequences to his action. But as a church-going man, Cliff should have known that he would have to face the repercussions of his sin.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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