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Rated 2.98 stars
by 1524 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Predictable Thriller
by Betty Jo Tucker

Although Clint Eastwood exposes the "warts and all" of his advanced age in Blood Work, it’s entirely appropriate. As a retired FBI profiler trying to capture a serial killer, the Oscar-winning filmmaker looks and acts every bit the part. Too bad he’s burdened with such a predictable script. It's not difficult to spot the culprit early-on in this dark adaptation of Michael Connelly’s best selling novel.

"It’s a detective story and a human relationship story," Eastwood says. "At this particular stage in my maturity, I felt it was time to take on characters that have different obstacles to face than they would if I were playing a younger man of 30 or 40."

Terry McCaleb, the film’s protagonist, is just the type of man Eastwood wanted to portray. "I especially like McCaleb’s vulnerability, both physically and psychologically . . . He’s a guy who is very good at his job and committed to it; then all of a sudden, he’s forced into retirement."

Eastwood paints McCaleb as a dedicated professional who can’t resist helping a sad and lovely stranger (Wanda De Jesus) when she asks him to find out who killed her sister – in spite of the danger to his own health as a recent heart-transplant recipient. His doctor, played with considerable authority by Oscar-winner Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor), can’t help being furious about McCaleb’s decision to go back into action.

McCaleb gets little assistance from the police, forcing him to rely on his laid-back neighbor, Buddy (Jeff Daniels). Buddy gladly performs various chores for him – watching over his boat, driving him to crime scenes, baby-sitting a client’s nephew, and so forth. Daniels excels in several give-and-take interactions with Eastwood. Because the characters they play have such different attitudes about work, some of their conversations come across as quite amusing. When McCaleb tries to encourage Buddy by saying, "You’re not a loser," Buddy answers flippantly, "Only my mother can tell me that."

Daniels points out, "Buddy’s actually a distant, distant cousin to the character I played in Dumb and Dumber. He needles McCaleb; he tweaks him and annoys him."

In contrast to Daniels’ right-on casting, comedian Paul Rodriguez appears in role I wish he hadn’t taken. He’s Detective Arrango, a nasty-mouthed cop who can’t stand McCaleb. Jealousy prevents this obnoxious man from giving the former profiler any respect. Rodriguez, so good at comedy (Tortilla Soup), seems miscast here. He relies on yelling instead of acting.

I’m glad I saw Blood Work on the big screen instead of on video. Many of the sequences, filmed in darkness, are difficult to interpret. During the movie’s climax aboard a rusted cargo boat, it’s hard to tell what’s happening. I dislike that type of filming almost as much as knowing what’s coming next, especially during a thriller.

I admire Eastwood, the director, for the chances he takes. Unforgiven, Bronco Billy, and Honkeytonk Man are three of his films I could see over and over again. Sadly, Blood Work ranks nowhere near these achievements. Still, I can’t fault Eastwood, the actor, for his work here. Watching "McCaleb" suffer a heart attack on the big screen seemed so realistic, it almost gave me one.

(Released by Warner Bros. and rated "R" for violence and language.)

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