Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Blood Work

MPAA Rating: R for violence and language

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Thriller / Crime
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
Clint Eastwood and Anjelica Huston in Bloodwork

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston, Wanda De Jesus, Tina Lifford | Directed by: Clint Eastwood | Produced by: Clint Eastwood | Written by: Brian Helgeland | Distributor: Warner Brothers

In his latest vehicle, Clint Eastwood plays a character not easily distinguished from most of his other police roles. Constructed as a murder mystery for the audience, “Blood Work” is smartly done but uses well-worn techniques.

FBI agent Terry McCaleb (Eastwood) is on the trail of the “Code Killer” when he spots a man with bloody tennis shoes in the crowd outside the crime scene. Giving chase, he’s overcome with a heart attack. The suspect escapes, although McCaleb wounds him.

Two years later, McCaleb is retired, two months post-heart-transplant and doing OK. But Graciella Rivers (Wanda De Jesus), the sister of a murder victim, asks him to take a look at the case. When McCaleb refuses, she plays her trump: McCaleb has her sister’s heart. How can you say no to that?

Despite resistance by the police bureaucracy and orders from his doctor to stop working, McCaleb persists. Eventually he finds that he’s connected to the case even more deeply than he thought.

Eastwood’s character has flaws, although he exhibits the positive character of dogged persistence in a good thing. The bad guy is a thrill-killer and headline-seeker without any redeeming qualities, so there’s no problem in deciding whom to root for or feel sympathy for. While it’s a challenge and a good piece of escapism, this film isn’t Oscar material in any department. If you’ve seen every other Eastwood cop film ever made, then of course don’t miss this one. But a year from now, its plot and characters may be jumbled with the others in your memory.

Viewer Comments
Positive—…As with any R-rated movie—especially one dealing with serial killers, you can expect some grisly crime scenes and typical foul-mouthed cops… There are some interesting concepts explored in Blood Work; among them is McCaleb’s unexplained desire and even obsession to solve this case despite his doctor’s warnings and threats to stop treating him. He seems to share an unspoken bond with his deceased benefactor, and solving this crime is his way of repaying her sacrifice.

There are subtle moments in the film where he will stroke the scar on his chest almost as if he is getting his strength from the spirit of the dead sister. He also begins to develop a strong bond with the Graciella character and the orphaned son who she now cares for. There is probably more profanity in this movie that necessary. Sure, we all know cops are famous for cursing, so a little is to be expected, but Paul Rodriquez seems to be torn between playing a cop and doing his stand-up comedy routine, neither of which I found particularly convincing nor funny.

I admit I did smile a few times, but usually it was Clint’s calm and cool composure and witty retorts to these infrequent streams of profanity. The violence is almost always seen after-the-fact, either in crime scenes or video footage. Some scenes are visually shocking with two execution style headshots shown repeatedly on video playback. Other scenes show coded messages from the serial killer to McCaleb written on the wall in the victim’s blood. It’s all dark and realistic but nothing you wouldn’t expect from and R-rated crime drama.

The one sex scene is totally implied, starting with a kiss then cutting away and returning with them partially dressed sleeping in the same bed. Blood Work is a story-driven movie that will have you thinking and feeling right along with our hero; a hero who is not superhuman, but simply a man, older and not in the best of health.

It’s a smart movie targeted for a smart adult audience, and you are encouraged to “think” while watching this movie, something I found very refreshing. What little objectionable material that is present in this movie is easily overshadowed by a great script and phenomenal acting. Easily one of the best drama’s you can see this summer.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Mark Smith, age 38
Movie Critics
…Older teens and adult fans of mystery thrillers will enjoy the tense hunt for clues in BLOOD WORK. Unfortunately, viewers also endure a large number of obscenities and strong profanity…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Some sexually related dialogue is present, while an off-screen sexual encounter is implied…