Blood Work
review by Gregory Avery, 9 August 2002

The first hour and a half of Clint Eastwood's new film, Blood Work, is quite good. Eastwood plays a veteran F.B.I. agent, Terry McCaleb, who, while pursuing a suspected killer on-foot, is suddenly felled by a near-fatal heart attack. Two years later, he's the recipient of a transplant heart, with a great, blooming chest scar and a regiment of pills and restrictions to show for it. In addition, he has nagging feelings of uncertainty and doubt, causing him to question why he, instead of somebody else, should luck out on being the recipient of a donor organ.

Terry's pleasant existence on a boat in the Long Beach marina is interrupted by the appearance of a woman (Wanda de Jesús, in a very fine performance) who asks the now-retired agent for help in looking into the unsolved murder of her sister -- seems that the heart that has saved Terry's life came from the murdered sister. An expert in profiling, Terry looks over the seemingly scant evidence and spots some clues that the local police did not pick up on, and he's placed in a precarious position -- he can either overtax himself and risk rejection of his transplanted heart, or possibly apprehend the murderer, someone who's committed an act that he pointedly calls "evil", and provide affirmation for his new lease on life.

When the film swings into its last half-hour, the resolution, for all this, turns out to be disappointingly conventional, replete with the kind of cackling, taunting maniac that we've been watching, with increasing weariness, ever since Silence of the Lambs in 1991. There are also some plot holes that are never entirely filled -- the killer would have had to had access to an awful lot of information in order to engineer the highly elaborate crimes that are revealed during the course of the story. Eastwood deserves credit, though, for turning his attention, as a filmmaker, towards stories that attempt to explore what it's like for aging heroes to come up against a sense of mortality, and he's one of the only directors around, right now, who, in individual scenes, gives you a sense of solid craftsmanship. Performers like de Jesús and Tina Lifford, as an agent who helps Terry because of a past, fondly remembered romantic fling, are given a chance to do some excellent work; Jeff Daniels gives a highly personable performance as Terry's neighbor and, later, driver and investigation "partner"; and, playing Terry's cardiologist, Anjelica Huston gives her scenes just the right succinct, flinty quality they need to work.

If Blood Work had more of a follow-through, it could have been great. But that's probably what's going to keep us watching Eastwood's films -- the very next one could be.

Directed by:
Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood
Jeff Daniels
Wanda de Jesús
Tina Lifford
Paul Rodriguez
Anjelica Huston.

Written by:
Brian Helgeland

R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires parent
or adult guardian.






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