BLOOD WORK, directed, produced by and starring Clint Eastwood, resulted in one of his least successful pictures: costing $50,000,000, it tanked at the box-office with a worldwide gross of just $31,795,000. Brian Helgeland’s screenplay is based off a novel by Michael Connelly.
On the trail of a message-taunting serial killer, aging FBI agent ‘Terry McCaleb’ (Eastwood) has a heart attack while literally chasing down the suspect. Career over, recovering with a heart transplant, McCaleb is prompted to do P.I. work for a woman whose sister was killed in a robbery. Juicing the plot is that the cops are flummoxed by the case, and the dead lady’s donated heart is now beating in McCaleb’s chest. Relationships develop, as do clues, then mortal danger.
Two-thirds of the way, it’s a reasonably interesting whodunit, the mediocre dialogue and lackadaisical pacing buoyed by simple curiosity and some of the acting, then it goes haywire into too-familiar thriller nonsense. John Wayne drew a lot of flack in 1974’s McQ for being too old to convince as a detective. He was 66, the tired flick not his finest hour. Eastwood, though certainly in better condition, was 72, and it doesn’t sell all that well here either (ditto the raspy voice jazz). Now, as with The Duke, we like our Clint, but he’s pushed it into garage-sale-for-50¢ territory with this 2002 entry. *
Jeff Daniels seems to enjoy himself in support, as the sleuth’s too-helpful marina neighbor (yes, your early suspicions will prove you know your genre), but Paul Rodriguez is frankly lame as a ridiculously irritable cop (the junk writing for his character is really trite).
Giving the film its strongest charges are the intriguing performances from Wanda de Jesùs, as the woman who wants her sister’s killer brought to justice, and Tina Lifford, as a sympathetic detective who apparently had a ‘thing’ with McCaleb in the past: both actresses are strong, attractive and appealing, and both deserved higher-profile career recognition.
With Anjelica Huston, Dylan Walsh and Rick Hoffman. 110 minutes.
* As with Duke’s McQ, Clint’s McCaleb is yet another former law enforcement rule-twister living on a boat. Frank Sinatra in Tony Rome. Rod Taylor in Darker Than Amber. Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. Was this started by TVs Surfside 6 (1960-62)? Lest we forget (or, as the case may be, try to): Quincy M.E., MacGuyver, Miami Vice, Simon & Simon….do detectives, especially retired ones, live on boats so they’ll always have something to solve?