Blood Work (2002)
Eastwood's Matters of the Heart
If you can't protect the integrity of the system, then there is no system - Terry McCaleb
As a rule I would say Clint Eastwood's collection of work as a director is as impressive as the movies he's starred in, but even Eastwood is prone to the occasional less than impressive movie. One of those movies is "Blood Work" which not only saw Eastwood direct but also taking on the role of an aging detective, a subject which seemed more and more prevalent in Eastwood's later movies. The problem with "Blood Work" is not Eastwood as an actor as he is as good as ever to watch but sadly as a director because he makes a mistake. That mistake being in a thriller where you have an unknown killer he lets the audience guess who it is too quickly and the minute you guess the killer the surprise motive reveals itself long before Eastwood as Terry McCaleb works it out. It spoils what could have been a very good movie as whilst there are moments of further unsubtlety, allowing you to work out these two things too quickly makes "Blood Work" a thriller where you are just waiting for your suspicions to be confirmed.
Whilst on the case of a serial killer who has been taunting him with messages left at the scene of the crime, FBI Agent Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood - Space Cowboys) suffers a heart attack forcing him into retirement. Two years on and recovering from having a heart transplant McCaleb is approached by Graciela Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) to investigate the murder of her sister in a convenience store shooting, whose heart just happens to be the one now beating in his chest. Despite no longer being able to drive and still very unwell McCaleb finds himself getting drawn deeper and deeper into this case discovering that what appears to have been a simple robbery gone wrong may have been something far more planned.
"Blood Work" actually starts quite well with this back story of a serial killer who seems to get off on taunting FBI Agent McCaleb as much as by killing people. And this leads to the chase scene where McCaleb suffers a heart attack, culminating with the serial killer standing over him. It's a solid start and what immediately follows as we pick up the story two years on and McCaleb not only retired from the force but recovering from a heart transplant is just as good.
But then we get into the main story which to be frank is a little far fetched as McCaleb gets involved in a murder case, the victim being the woman's heart who is now beating in his chest. Now on a good note Eastwood restrains himself from going down the obvious idea of having a deep connection to the victim and whilst there is one rather strange dream like scene there is barely any of the feeling what the victim felt, which would have been just too wrong. But it sadly ends up all a little too obvious because as we are introduced to various characters you quickly get a feeling you know who the killer is. And the knock on effect of this along with some very unsubtle clues is you can work out the motive which then in itself reveals the final twist.
All this means is that whilst the way McCaleb investigates the case is interesting and Eastwood does a nice job of also embracing the fact that McCaleb is no longer fit enough to be careering off all over the place, you are just waiting for your suspicions to be confirmed. It almost works because watching McCaleb work, seeing him pick up on something that other detectives miss is very interesting as is the way he puts two and two together. But the longer it goes on the more you just want it to come to an end and unfortunately the unsurprisingly action packed ending as McCaleb finally cottons on is a bit too over the top.
But despite this, despite the surprising flaws in Eastwood's direction "Blood Work" is entertaining and it is down to Eastwood as Terry McCaleb which makes it work. It does seem that in the latter part of his career Eastwood has enjoyed playing characters whose age and health is an issue and he does it so well. Watching the various scenes that Eastwood shares with Angelica Huston who plays his doctor are very good as are the scenes where we watch his health faulter having been drawn into the investigation. It's not all good and certain bursts of action hero like antics feel slightly wrong but for the most you do enjoy following McCaleb.
And to be honest whilst none of the rest of the cast which includes Angelica Huston, Jeff Daniels, Wanda De Jesus and Tina Lifford put in bad performances they do for the most end up as supporting actors there to aid build up McCaleb's story. Well that is with the exception of one, the star who we can quickly guess is the killer who whilst a surprise choice for the role does a reasonable job.
What this all boils down to is that "Blood Work" as an idea is very good, except thanks to a couple of mistakes it doesn't come across so well in the movie. Sadly the surprises in this thriller are far too easy to work out and it means that long before it reaches its action packed finale you have worked out what is what. If it wasn't for the fact that Eastwood does such a solid job of playing Terry McCaleb "Blood Work" could have ended up disappointing rather than entertaining but flawed.
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