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Blood Work

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Blood Work

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Anjelica Huston
Director: Clint Eastwood
Rated: R
RunTime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: August 2002
Genre: Suspense


*Also starring: Jeff Daniels, Wanda de Jesus, Tina Lifford, Paul Rodriguez, Dylan Walsh



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1.  Harvey Karten review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
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4.  Susan Granger read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Harvey Karten
2½ stars out of 4

Hollywood treats romances between people of a certain age only gingerly. Rarely has a blockbuster dealt with an elderly, retired law enforcement officer with a bad ticker who ignores his doctor's advice and chases criminals as though he were a rookie out to make a name for himself and get promoted. In "Blood Work," the seventy-two year old Clint Eastwood, who directs, produces and stars in this essentially routine crime saga, not only gets to romance a woman some three decades younger than he is (and she's the one who hits on him) but succeeds in solving a case that the local ignorant cops prematurely consider closed.

What saves "Blood Work" from being an egregious example of a same ol' same ol' crime story is a plot machination that scripted Brian Helgeland must have thought unusual enough from Michael Connelly's novel. The law officer, formerly with the FBI and now working on a crime without a license, has not only had a serious heart attack which forced his exit from the bureau but has received the heart of a young woman who was brutally killed during a liquor-store robbery. Cops think the motive of the ski-masked bandit, captured clearly on video, was to avoid a life sentence if fingered by witnesses. Already a two time loser, under California law, any witness convincing a jury about the identity of a robber would send him up the river for life. Better to kill all witnesses: what's there to lose?

But former agent Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood), a famous FBI man who regularly captures headlines for his expert police work, second-guesses himself, allowing us in the audience to share with him the challenge of breaking the killer's code which would yield the identity of the perp.

"Blood Work" takes us to the San Pedro, California scene of an ATM murder in which McCaleb, believing a person in the crowd of rubberneckers is the shooter, chases the man down and surprisingly for his age is about to catch him. When a heart attack foils the arrest, McCaleb is treated by cardiologist Dr. Bonnie Fox (Angelica Huston), who puts him on a daily regime of 34 pills and warns him to take things slow. When McCaleb is petitioned by the sister of the dead woman, Graciela Rivers (Wanda De Jesus), to bring the murderer to justice, he enlists his neighbor in an adjacent boat, Buddy Noone (Jeff Daniels) as a chauffeur as he proceeds through the southern Cal area to enlist the help of his friends and is likewise shunned by the envious precinct cop, Detective Arrange (Paul Rodriguez).

The chemistry between Eastwood and De Jesus is more than satisfactory as McCaleb, with the help of a former buddy and police officer Jaye Winston (Tina Lifford) pursue clues and get surprising help from the dead woman's young boy, Raymond (Mason Lucero). The road-and-buddy relationship between Noone and McCaleb is amusing, the identity of the murderer possibly guessed by some in the audience. But this is not a conventional mystery but more of a character study of a not-yet- over-the-hill peacemaker who will not go gently into retirement but who persists doggedly in outsmarting the LAPD officials who all too eagerly close the case before the real villain is found. Eastwood, a legend since his opening roles in spaghetti Westerns by Sergio Leone almost two-score years ago, had moved into more mature, critically acclaimed films with the opening of "Unforgiven" in 1992. "Blood Work," like Eastwood's 1992 breakthrough, deals with a man who comes out of retirement, in that film as a hit man who needs one more score to make some money. Unlike "Unforgiven," his current offering lacks the exploration of morality and hypocrisy and despite fine performances, a nice view of San Pedro Harbor, and a neat jazz score by Lennie Niehaus, has heart but is not particularly compelling or fresh.

Copyright 2002 Harvey Karten

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