2002, R, 110 min. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Starring Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Paul Rodriguez, Tina Lifford, Wanda De Jesús, Dylan Walsh, Anjelica Huston.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 9, 2002
Clint Eastwood is back directing and starring in a new suspense thriller that is scripted by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) and is based on a bestselling detective novel by Michael Connelly. It's always great to have Eastwood back in the saddle, especially in this movie where he plays a character who is more or less his own age. By Hollywood standards, that's pretty radical -- especially for a 72-year-old man. The character he plays, veteran FBI profiler Terry McCaleb, is no Roger Murtaugh, the character played by Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon films, who continually complains, “I'm getting too old for this shit.” McCaleb may indeed be getting too old for this kind of work and the physical demands of the chase, but the character also seems to know that he is lost without it. The hunt makes him feel “connected,” as he says at one point. Apart from watching Eastwood flex his acting muscles in this new stage of life, Blood Work fails to deliver much else in the way of surprises. The movie is a fairly routine policier that leads down several blind alleys awash with red herrings before neatly working its way through to its resolution. McCaleb, who has retired from the FBI after a heart transplant, is working this case off-the-record at the behest of a pretty woman (De Jesús) who wants justice for her slain sister (no matter his age, Eastwood is still a babe magnet). If the detective-story aspect of Blood Work fails to thoroughly captivate, the movie is nevertheless enjoyable for its constant stream of lively characters and the delight in watching a man with a bad ticker but a good head go through his paces. One of director Eastwood's greatest strengths has always been his casting, and Blood Work is no exception. De Jesús and Lifford (as a woman with whom he was long ago involved both romantically and professionally) are unusual casting choices but work beautifully in their roles. Comedian Rodriguez is cast against type as a cop, and Daniels is delightful as McCaleb's goofy houseboat neighbor. Blood Work certainly merits attention, although it shouldn't be mistaken for one of Eastwood's greatest works.