Some things get better with age, and Clint Eastwood definitely fits in that category, but his latest picture Blood Work is about as satisfying as drinking warm blood. It has texture, but in the end you have a craving for something else.
Eastwood continues to adapt to his surroundings. Unlike some of these actors of old that are trying to pretend they are still young, Eastwood grasps the fact that he is old, fleshing out stories just for him, and making fun of himself at the same time. His movies have been good lately. Absolute Power was exciting. True Crime was pretty good. Space Cowboys was hilarious. And after hearing about all of the good reviews Blood Work was getting, I was definitely looking forward to this serial killer mystery more than its more muscular competition XXX. Unfortunately, Eastwood can't hit the target every time, and he definitely does not here, delivering a poorly-acted, poorly-written, and slow-paced thriller.
Eastwood plays retired FBI Agent Terry McCaleb, who had a heart attack two years ago while pursuing a serial killer known as the "Code Killer" because he likes to leave codes behind for McCaleb to figure out. Unfortunately, his heart has him moving a little slower these days, and so when a woman comes to him asking for his help in finding her sister's killer, he is reluctant. But when he finds out her sister's death allowed him to live via heart surgery, he begins to investigate, and starts to think that his old nemesis is back as well.
Eastwood loves to make fun of his age, and he does it especially so in Blood Work - after all, his character has had heart surgery. The lines aren't quite as witty here, but every time Eastwood rubs his chest you know he is making a jab at himself. Nevertheless, even though he is old, he really doesn't look it - he is still just as cunning as he was in his Dirty Harry days. His on-screen ferocity is especially noticed in the refreshing shotgun scene of the movie.
The plot is pretty good - there are clues, but more than anything else I'm just partial to serial killer movies. It's a classic detective story all the way, and Eastwood, being the director that he is, does a pretty good job. Unfortunately, not a great job, and his few mistakes cost him big.
First off, the serial killer is so obvious it hurts. I was so hoping that it would turn out to be someone else just to prove me wrong, but it wasn't. From the first moment I saw the person, I knew he/she was the killer. The character is about as cliché as they come, and he/she really isn't even that convincing in the role. Eastwood doesn't help things by throwing in little clues along the way - little clues that are pretty damn obvious. At least make the Russian suspect look like the killer!
With the big twist of the movie being a failure, Blood Work needed to rest on its actors and script for support, but unfortunately didn't find much relief. The acting is so terrible I was squirming in my seat. Eastwood is okay enough, able to pull off some cheesy lines now and again. Angelica Huston, though, is just terrible - obviously she wasn't too thrilled with her pointless role as Eastwood's doctor. The lead female role Wanda de Jesus is almost impossible to watch - the lines she is given are bad, but she still butchers them. Jeff Daniels as the comic relief is fun at times, but by the end, you'd wish he were dead (of course, who knows, maybe he'll end up that way).
The script includes some really bad lines, and just terrible dialogue all around. Some of the things the characters say to one another just wouldn't be said between normal people - didn't a script doctor look at this thing?
However, the thing that hurts Blood Work more than anything else is its pace. If you think Eastwood runs slow nowadays, wait until you see this movie. It has some compelling parts and a few little action scenes, but Eastwood takes so long to get from Point A to Point B that most people will be falling asleep.
I'll support Clint Eastwood until the day I day, but the professional critics have decided to give even his bad movies good reviews. I have more dignity to that, and I must say I was quite disappointed with his latest effort. The other people involved in the film didn't help matters much. Blood Work will just end up being a splatter on the wall.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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