A grungy, gritty indie thriller, Blue Ruin is an impressive showcase for writer/director (and cinematographer in this film's case) Jeremy Saulnier. The revenge tale Saulnier has created could easily follow the same beats as every other film with a similar premise, but he's too clever to succumb to clichés and overused tropes. Instead, the tropes are flipped upside down, and the result is a thriller that, rather impressively, allows for realistic character and storytelling decisions without losing sight of the thrills needed to make this story work as, well, a thriller. Between Saulnier's tight writing, which functions as an organic, dialogue-light piece for much of the film, and lead actor Macon Blair's subdued performance, this is a refreshing take on the story in that the action in the film is largely incompetent. Blair's Dwight Evans, who is seeking revenge for wrongdoings against his family in the past, is a pretty pathetic excuse for an assassin, but in all the right ways. His sloppiness is what really allows for the tension to slowly build in each scene, as well as result in brutality that's as sloppy as his assassin skills. This is, oddly, where the film sometimes falters: the second act seems to forget about this concept at times, but fortunately returns to it in the tense final act. It's a third act that revels in being a quiet climax, focused on deliberate tension rather than loud setpieces. It's impeccable storytelling, and for all the budgetary restraints he faces and his general lack of prior films, Saulnier pulls it off really well.