Blood Work Movie Review

Clint Eastwood is back to lay down the law and settle a new score. This time, his pursuit of justice has a new wrinkle (or many, I suppose): his age. In Blood Work, his aging lawman portrayal is highly convincing, but by the end of the film this fascinating character study looses all credibility at the hands of an age-old, Hollywood stereotype.

Eastwood plays experienced FBI profiler Terrell McCaleb, who is forced into retirement after a series of heart attacks and transplants have kept him sidelined for two years. Armed with a new ticker and new meds, McCaleb returns to investigative work when a stranger named Graciela Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) requests that he find the ski-masked gunman who murdered her sister. His involvement garners fierce objections from his doctor (Anjelica Huston) and an envious police detective (Paul Rodriguez). To assist with his investigation, McCaleb enlists the help of his alcoholic neighbor Buddy Noone (Jeff Daniels), and his friend, Los Angeles sheriff Detective Jaye Winston (Tina Lifford).

Early on, Blood Work engages as a thriller that allows the audience to feel part of McCaleb's investigation. Rather than being told secondhand, we're given the opportunity to put the clues together ourselves, along with McCaleb and Winston. In our discoveries, we learn of interesting connections between McCaleb and Rivers, as well as his unique blood type, and information about the victims of several crimes. It's the fascinating police work that brings these revelations to light, and I would be remiss to spoil them here.

Unfortunately, Blood Work also forces you to call into question how all of these connections could have all unfolded so neatly. Put simply, there are just too many conveniences taken with the plot to allow the story to tie together. For example, Rivers seeks McCaleb's help because they share a unique bond, yet based on what transpires later, we question how the murderer knows Rivers will come to the retired McCaleb for help. Why not just hire some run-of-the-mill private investigator?

Blood Work completely lost my attention at the 90-minute mark when the relationship between McCaleb and Rivers reached the bedroom. Until that point, Eastwood's film presents a motivating character study of a lawman defying his age to resolve one more personal score and the broken woman who refuses to let go of her sister's memory. I can look past the numerous clichéd Eastwood-like lines and stale police relationships typical of the genre. But I couldn't dismiss their bedroom behavior and neither could a snickering audience at my screening. Why must we continue to have heroes with love interests are at least three decades their junior? Nobody cares - it's just pure fantasy.

The story is serviceable enough to foster interesting character studies of both McCaleb and Rivers, but once they sleep together, the film loses that element of credibility and the rest of the film becomes entirely too predictable. Blood Work settles some scores, but the most important ones come up shooting blanks.

A pair of featurettes -- a documentary and an interview with two supporting players -- add a little to an otherwise acceptable DVD release. Excellent surround sound really gives your speakers a workout.

Angelica says, "Eat more fiber."


Blood Work Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 2002


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