Blood Work
Grade: C
Year: 2002
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Michael Connelly
Genre: Thriller
Rated: R

Blood Work, Clint Eastwood’s latest self-glorifying movie, once again pins him in the glamorous role, although he is much older and fragile this time. He’s still the top cop, only a little weaker. Unfortunately, this flick has only an interesting story to stand on, and that is clearly not enough for action and thrill seeking fans. It is also sub-par for the mystery genre, as you will find that there is little to figure out.

Blood Work opens with FBI agent Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) working at a crime scene created by his newest fan, the Code Killer. Leaving clues about himself and the murder at each scene, he has made his killing spree a game, and wants McCaleb to participate.

From the get go, the absurdity begins, starting with the killer showing up at his own crime scene to have some fun with McCaleb. Despite the massive number of cops and swarming press, nobody notices that the killer is there. It takes the eye of McCaleb from a distance to spot him in the crowd; and the chase begins, with all of the younger and better shaped bystanders watching. The chase enters an alley, with the mysterious killer jumping a tall chain fence. McCaleb foolishly follows; has a heart attack and collapses.

In order to survive, he undergoes an emergency heart transplant and is forced into retirement. We see him two years later living on a house boat in the marina. From here, it appears that McCaleb will be spending the rest of days fishing and enjoying the sun. Not so fast. He gets a visitor, Graciella Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) who has come to him for help. She shows him a picture of his sister, and calmly asks him to investigate her murder. McCaleb abruptly shoots back saying he is now retired and no longer a cop, but Graciella soon gives him a reason that gives him no choice but to help her out.

McCaleb’s deteriorating condition is a major theme for Blood Work. Because he was strictly instructed by his doctor (Anjelica Huston) not to do too much, he hires his neighbor Buddy Noone (Jeff Daniels) to drive him around and to be his right hand while McCaleb takes on his new private case. We know McCaleb is concerned about his health, but that doesn’t stop him from chasing the Code Killer. It gets to a point where his doctor threatens to refuse care, but McCaleb knows that he owes it to Graciella to find the killer. There is a connection between the killer, McCaleb and Graciella’s sister, and learning that for yourself is the only good part of this movie.

It doesn’t bother me, despite the awkwardness of the situation, that every female regardless of age falls in love with Eastwood’s characters. Blood Work shows his attempts to act smooth around his new love interest Graciella, but it doesn’t fit, even though they always work. I’m not going to hold McCaleb’s attractiveness against him, but the relationship between he and Graciella would have had much more meaning had it only been a desperate woman seeking the help of the only man who can help her.

The good intentions of Blood Work is found in the story. So giving away plot details, such as why McCaleb jumps out of retirement would make seeing this movie pointless. And while there is slight interest in watching McCaleb unfold the clues to the murder mystery, it happens at an incredibly slow and boring pace.

The weakest element exists within the characters. There is no surprise or guessing at who are the good guys and who are the bad. His annoying former partner, Detective Ronaldo Arrango (Paul Rodriguez (I)) is always getting in his way because McCaleb is no longer a cop. Yet it is he who provides the comic relief, but at the stereotypical expense of either Americans or Mexicans. Every time we see him, he appears more angry and uptight but for no apparent reason.

The characters are all one dimensional, easily giving away their good/bad intentions as soon as they speak their first line of dialogue. The cops are stiff, and every suspect in question acts suspicious, even when you know they're only purpose is to unsuccessfully throw you off the trail.

The rest of Blood Work is nothing more than McCaleb cracking clues, and getting closer to the killer. He reviews evidence, watches surveillance footage, and goes out into town to test his theory. After that, he repeats the process to pass the time. Somewhere in the middle of the movie, a gun goes off; which reminded me of a school teacher who would pound her fist on the desk of a student who fell asleep during a boring lecture.

There is absolutely no suspense, plot twists or tight thrills, although McCaleb is taunted a few times in writing by the killer, but it's nothing to get on the edge of your seat about. Everything is completely predictable, especially the ending. I would have liked to have been caught off guard at least once, but that never happened.

You can miss half of the movie and still figure out who the Code Killer is, well before the movie ends. Only die-hard Eastwood fans will enjoy Blood Work, but even many of them won't. For those that don't see it for Eastwood, expect another cop find killer movie with nothing to brag about.

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© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. Contact Editor: Scott Spicciati