Reviewed by: Brett Willis
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.