Blood Work review by Matt Fuerst


Blood Work Blood Work falls into the category of Action Thriller, and was released to the big screens in 2002 without too much fanfare. At the time, I appreciated the release since, for the most part, there aren't many thoughtful, well paced Thriller movies released to the big screen these days. Sadly, Blood Work isn't a member of that club, either. The problem lies in the pacing, which, if you are a follower of Mr. Eastwood's directing, probably won't come as much of a suprise.

Blood Work involves the story of Terry McCaleb (Eastwood) who is an FBI profiler (If you believe Hollywood, the FBI is filled with Profilers, and no one is a boring ass FBI Accountant). A serial killer has taken a liking to McCaleb and has begun leaving messages for McCaleb at the scenes of crimes. The movie starts at a scene of the killers latest crime, and the killer is actually in the crowd outside, enjoying the spectacle he has cause. A chase ensues between McCaleb and the killer and McCaleb, no spring chicken, ends up having what they call on ER, a MI. Heart attack. Man, it sucks to be old.

McCaleb retires from the force and ends up receiving a heart transplant in order to keep on being a grumpy old man. In the course of being grumpy, the sister of the heart donor (an acceptable likable Wanda De Jesus) approaches McCaleb and asks him to look into the circumstances behind the death of her sister. McCaleb begrudgingly accepts the role and enrolls his boat neighbor, Buddy (Jeff Bridges) [oh yeah, I haven't mentioned that McCaleb lives on a boat, to attempt to add a touch of mystery to his life, and whatnot] to play chauffer. The trail leads McCaleb through sevearl jurisdictions, and through several wrong leads until the real truth comes to him.

Once discovering the truth behind the murder of his heart donor, the relatively predictable finale/battle occurs between McCaleb and the bad guy. Once the discovery of the truth occurs the wheels sort of come off, and a relatively interesting crime solving process is ignored and the shootout occurs. You won't really be sitting on the edge of your seat at this point, since you already know the ending.

As I alluded to above, the main problem with the movie is the pacing. I have a lot of trouble accepting Eastwood's directing style since it just slows scenes down to the point I find myself staring at the ceiling. Conversations between McCaled and the sister Graciella Rivers (De Jesus) start out interesting enough, and important information is conveyed that is needed to move the story forward, but then lines are forces with extra fluff.

The script for Blood Work is from Brian Helgeland whom, up to this point, had a 1.000 batting average with me. He even gets bonus credits for L.A. Confidential and Payback (which he wrote and directed) which are two of my favorite movies of all time. I liked A Knight's Tale even though my fellow Jackasses were pretty split on that one. However this scripts was lacking something that his others presented. That something was a palpable, believeable atmopshere. L.A. Confidential just oozed 50's style. From Jack Vincennes' (Kevin Spacey) shark white suit to the green paint on the walls in the police station, you could tell that the entire script from beginning to end was crammed with these sort of touches. Blood Work is really lacking in this department as there really isn't much depth or notes of interest with McCaleb. He was an FBI agent, he got a heart transplant, he lives on a boat. I just successfully synopsized the interesting things about McCaleb. My initial reaction was to blame Eastwood's production and direction for this lack of "hooks", but I think that is short sighted. Even without Helgeland directing his previous work has been far deeper in it's substance. There is no real getting around the one dimension of McCaleb. Hell, maybe that was a concious decision to make him that way, but it's boring.

Another issue that really needs to be cleared up is Clint Eastwood casting himself in his movies against girlfriends or shag-buddies that are 30, 40, 50 years younger than he is. I don't know if he does this for the male blue hairs in the crowd (that is probably his biggest dan base) or just to fulfill his fantasies through the casting couch, but it really is annoying. I was punching the seat ahead of me during True Crime (for much more than this reason though) and as we picked up the Blood Work box I knew I was in for another 2 or 3 minute "Clint wining and dining the young chick" scene. Ridiculous.

Overall, you'll probably be better off taking a look in the older release section at your local rental store. If you have an Eastwood scratch to itch pick up Dirty Harry. If you want a quality thriller pick up something like Malice which is good with either a white or red wine.

5 out of 10 Jackasses
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