Blood Work (6/10)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


Produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, Blood Work is Eastwood’s take on Michael Connelly’s best selling novel of the same name. Working from an intelligent script by Brian Helgeland, it’s a faithful rendition.  Eastwood plays boat-dwelling Terry McCaleb, a former FBI agent who had to quit the Agency because of heart problems, encountered chasing a bad guy at the beginning of the film that required a heart transplant.  A woman, Graciela Rivers (Wanda de Jesus) manipulates him into investigating the murder of her sister at a convenience store.  Against his better judgment, he reluctantly consents to look into it against the warnings of his cardiologist, Dr. Bonnie Fox, played by Anjelica Huston. 

 He’s helped by Buddy Noone (Jeff Daniels), his ne’er do well neighbor in the marina. Together, with FBI Agent Jaye Winston (Tina Lifford), with whom he had a prior relationship, they start to investigate, irritating an LAPD Detective, Arrango (Paul Rodriguez), who feels McCaleb is a has-been irritant in a case he considers dead.  They persist, however, and as the story progresses McCaleb finds there’s a lot more involved than he bargained for.

 All the players do good, believable jobs of translating Connelly’s spellbinding novel to the screen, but the star of this film is Tom Stern, the Director of Photography.  The cinematography of this movie is exceptional.  Filmed in and around a marina, there is a five-minute sequence filmed across from the Queen Mary at dusk in available light that is worth the price of admission.  The wind is blowing and Stern catches that rare light that occasionally comes to an ocean locale at twilight.  This sequence is mesmerizing.

 Eastwood accepts his age with grace in this film.  Instead of a macho Dirty Harry, he’s now a vulnerable, sick, aging ex-cop who must always consider the effects of what he’s doing, or about to do, on his borrowed heart.  It’s a wonderful transition.  He can’t use his power as a policeman because he no longer carries a badge, so he fudges when identifying himself.  But even though he’s aging, illegitimate, and ill, below McCaleb’s susceptible exterior we can still see Dirty Harry lurking in the background.

 Although this film is long, running approximately 115 minutes, it is involving and the acting is uniformly excellent.  If you like genre films, Blood Work will not disappoint.

 The End