Blood Work

Rated: R
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Wanda De Jesus, Tina Lifford, Paul Rodriguez, Dylan Walsh
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Brian Helgeland – based on the novel by Michael Connelly

Clint Eastwood’s Blood Work is mildly stimulating thanks to a fairly decent storyline and Eastwood’s grisly presence; it’s somewhat irritating no thanks to the casting of Paul Rodriquez, a lousy actor in a lousy part and it’s also a tad idiotic at it’s conclusion. It’s a watchable crime thriller and you should have some fun guessing this whodunit, because, trust me, the clues are way out in the open.

Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) is a retired FBI director who has recently had a heart transplant. He lives on a boat (where have we seen that before) and trades barbs with his next boat neighbor, a harmonica playing loser type named Buddy Noone (Jeff Daniels).

Even though he’s taking 34 medications and guarding against fever and transplant rejection, McCaleb agrees to take on the investigation of a woman who was killed in what seems to be a random convenience store robbery. He is hired by Graciela Rivers (Wanda De Jesus), the woman’s sister, and she’s convinced that the local police are incompetent. When you see Paul Rodriguez’ Detective Ronaldo Arrango and his partner Detective John Waller, played by a nearly mute Dylan Walsh, you know that her beef with them is legitimate. These two bozos can hardly find the donut box. Arrrango is so jealous of McCaleb’s hotshot investigator reputation that every line out of his mouth is a putdown. It’s as if Rodriguez is locked in some awful Don Rickles standup routine. Why the writer crafted this miserable joke of a character and Eastwood, himself as director, put up with this portrayal is inexplicable. But let’s move on …

At the time McCaleb retired from the bureau (two years ago in screen time), he was receiving personal notes from a serial killer appreciative of the notoriety from being McCaleb’s prey. Now that McCaleb’s back, skillfully taking in crime scenes, clues are cropping up indicating that his past nemesis may be back to haunt him. And that the dead woman, Gloria, may be an unusual present to the man who only feels “connected” when he’s working on a case.

Lotta says: I have to give Eastwood credit for finding a character that meshes with his age. And all was credible until Graciela, who’s at least 30 years younger, makes a move on him, caressing his shriveled body. Keep the shirt on, Clint, that’s all I can say. Listen carefully to the killer’s explanation of his behavior and then see if you can understand why he takes final action, with a machine gun, no less. Makes sense? Hardly.

Reviewed 8/10/02