review by Gregory Avery, 9 August 2002
The first hour and a half of
Clint Eastwood's new film, Blood Work, is quite good.
Eastwood plays a veteran F.B.I. agent, Terry McCaleb, who, while
pursuing a suspected killer on-foot, is suddenly felled by a
near-fatal heart attack. Two years later, he's the recipient of a
transplant heart, with a great, blooming chest scar and a regiment
of pills and restrictions to show for it. In addition, he has
nagging feelings of uncertainty and doubt, causing him to question
why he, instead of somebody else, should luck out on being the
recipient of a donor organ.
Terry's pleasant existence on a
boat in the Long Beach marina is interrupted by the appearance of a
woman (Wanda de Jesús, in a very fine performance) who asks the
now-retired agent for help in looking into the unsolved murder of
her sister -- seems that the heart that has saved Terry's life came
from the murdered sister. An expert in profiling, Terry looks over
the seemingly scant evidence and spots some clues that the local
police did not pick up on, and he's placed in a precarious position
-- he can either overtax himself and risk rejection of his
transplanted heart, or possibly apprehend the murderer, someone
who's committed an act that he pointedly calls "evil", and
provide affirmation for his new lease on life.
When the film swings into its last
half-hour, the resolution, for all this, turns out to be
disappointingly conventional, replete with the kind of cackling,
taunting maniac that we've been watching, with increasing weariness,
ever since Silence of the Lambs in 1991. There are also some
plot holes that are never entirely filled -- the killer would have
had to had access to an awful lot of information in order to
engineer the highly elaborate crimes that are revealed during the
course of the story. Eastwood deserves credit, though, for turning
his attention, as a filmmaker, towards stories that attempt to
explore what it's like for aging heroes to come up against a sense
of mortality, and he's one of the only directors around, right now,
who, in individual scenes, gives you a sense of solid craftsmanship.
Performers like de Jesús and Tina Lifford, as an agent who helps
Terry because of a past, fondly remembered romantic fling, are given
a chance to do some excellent work; Jeff Daniels gives a highly
personable performance as Terry's neighbor and, later, driver and
investigation "partner"; and, playing Terry's
cardiologist, Anjelica Huston gives her scenes just the right
succinct, flinty quality they need to work.
If Blood Work had more of a
follow-through, it could have been great. But that's probably what's
going to keep us watching Eastwood's films -- the very next one
Wanda de Jesús
R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires parent
or adult guardian.