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Click for full sized poster

Blood Work

Starring Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by Brian Helgeland
Based on the novel by Michael Connelly
Directed by Clint Eastwood
web site: warnerbros.com

IN SHORT: An Average Eastwood vehicle. 105 minutes]

Give credit where credit is due. Clint Eastwood doesn't try to pass himself off as anything that his body can't portray. That body is way past the lean, mean Dirty Harry killing machine days, which is why big time fans may wince when Eastwood drops flat from a massive heart attack, brought on when his aging FBI profiler tries to run down a much younger suspect, at the beginning of Blood Work.Two years and one heart transplant later, Terry McCaleb (Eastwood) is unhappily retired and living on a boat in the Long Beach marina. two boats down is Buddy (Jeff Daniels), a rich ne'er do well and soon to be willing sidekick as McCaleb is drawn back to the detective game.

It all comes down to this, fans. Are you willing to see a hero figure reduced to a walking slab of scar flesh -- and that transplant scar is going to be in your face again and again and again -- and, if so, are you going to be able to sit for a barely adequate Eastwood vehicle that falls back on the implausible gimmick of using that transplanted heart to tell the ex-cop that what the rest of his body is sensing is wrong. We got tired of Eastwood grabbing at his heart when these "mystic signals" were being sent. Then again, we didn't particularly care for the acting performances of some of the supporting characters or their reason for being in the story. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. That story . . .

While on his boat, McCaleb's privacy is invaded by Graciella Rivers (Wanda de Jesus) and her orphaned nephew Raymond (Mason Lucero). Graciella is an insightful reader of the local newspaper and, thanks to those reading skills, has discerned that the heart that is beating inside of McCaleb's chest once belonged to her murdered sister -- it's got something to do with a rare blood type, which will play an important part in solving this murder case. Since the local cops, including McC's counterparts Detectives Arrango (Paul Rodriguez) and Waller (Dylan Walsh) are at a dead end as well as fed up with daily phone harassment from Ms. Rivers, neither is pleased when the ex FBI guy shows up asking questions about the case. He comes bearing donuts, which is about as funny as you're going to get in a Clint Eastwood movie.

Once upon a time we spent a good six or seven weeks working with Hispanic actors on the streets of East Los Angeles. We didn't buy either performance-- Rodriguez is overly strident and close to caricature (but then, he made his first career caricaturing Hispanics as part of his stand up routine) and de Jesus doesn't wear the part well. We normally lay off the actors but when performances as thin as these are matched with also-thin storylines involving McCaleb's cardiologist (Angelica Huston); a local sheriff (Tina Lifford) who helps our hero out when his ex-local partners won't; add that hackneyed bit about the heart, good gracious folks what do you need to say?

You say its a Clint Eastwood film and the man knows something about what he's doing. More important, that serial killer who vanished in the first two minutes of the film, coded named the "Code Killer" because of the written in blood, numbered taunts left behind each killing, soon reappears as McCaleb links the Rivers murder to one other. The reasoning behind these murders, when revealed, is about as sick as they come and the major redeeming point of this flick. There are bodies a plenty and bloody taunts and an old man popping pills for his heart and a plot twist that we should have seen coming. We blame jet lag for the joy of not figuring it out earlier but what are you going to do?

Then again, most of the supporting characters in Eastwood films are weak, as are most of the subplots. This one's weaker than most.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Blood Work, he would have paid . . .

$4.50

dateflick for the guys. We all get old. We should live as good as any of Clint Eastwood's characters do, even the ones that get the crap beat out of 'em before gunning the bad guy down.


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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.