Blu-ray Review: Blood Work

Clint Eastwood is one of the coolest guys that’s ever lived, and while he’s an extremely talented director, and quite the actor, it’s his “cool” factor that really makes his movies worth watching. Blood Work is a great example of this because even though the film is incredibly predictable and sometimes a little overacted by certain members of the supporting cast, Eastwood still delivers the goods on all fronts which, in turn, makes the movie worth watching.

One of the best things about Eastwood is that as he gets older and takes on roles that suit someone of his age, he also automatically makes them a badass. He’s just got this aura about him that tells the audience that he’s not somebody to be messed with – even if he’s just received a heart transplant. That’s the case this time around, as Eastwood’s character, Terry McCaleb (even the name McCaleb is awesome, and just makes him seem that much tougher), suffers a heart attack while chasing down a serial killer that’s been taunting him and leaving him messages.

The film then jumps forward two years and we find out that McCaleb has retired from the FBI and has had a heart transplant and is now going through the recovery process. While this is a big enough obstacle for him to overcome at his age, things take an unexpected turn when a woman (Wanda De Jesus) shows up on his boat and informs him that the heart he received belonged to her sister, who was murdered. This guilt trip sends McCaleb on a search for answers that will lead him back into a dangerous game that he thought had passed him by.

Screenwriter Brian Helgeland is no stranger to writing film adaptations, with Mystic River and Man on Fire being two of his best; however, Blood Work (which is based off the novel of the same name by Michael Connelly) could use some work. While the story is entertaining, and the mystery is there for the first half of the film, the predictability of the plot makes it so that the second half comes off feeling like the audience is waiting for the characters to catch up to things we already know – even though we’re technically not supposed to have figured it out yet. I’m not sure if it’s things are that easy to predict in the novel, but that’s the way it turned out here.

Still, that’s not to say the film gets boring, and while it’s a lot less captivating than a crime drama should be heading into the second half, it’s still quite entertaining. This is mainly thanks to the work of Eastwood, who delivers his lines in ways that only he can, which makes it so that even if you have figured it all out, odds are you don’t really care and just want to see what McCaleb does next.

The supporting cast is a mixed bag, with Jeff Daniels being the star of the bunch. Daniels plays Buddy, a boat bum who lives a few boats down from McCaleb at the marina. Buddy is the sidekick of the film, and a bit of comic relief, as he’s hired by McCaleb to be his driver while he conducts his investigation into the murder. Daniels adds humour to various scenes and has some solid chemistry with Eastwood, as even if Buddy’s jokes aren’t particularly funny, McCaleb’s straight-faced reactions almost always are.

Also on the supporting front are De Jesus, Tina Lifford and Anjelica Huston. De Jesus, who plays Graciella Rivers, does a decent job for the most part, but she’s also guilty of delivering a few lines with a bit too much exaggeration, which causes them to come off sounding a bit cheesy. Lifford plays Detective Jaye Winston, who owes McCaleb some favours and helps him out a bit during his investigation. Huston’s role is much smaller, as she plays McCaleb’s doctor, who mainly warns McCaleb about the stress the case is causing on his heart and keeps pushing for him to just go home and rest.

Blood Work is crime drama that’s more entertaining and fun than it is dramatic and mysterious; though that’s not necessarily a knock against it. Eastwood’s enchanting acting abilities make his character one we want to watch, and because of that, even reason to stick around until the end.

The video transfer for Blood Work is great, and looks clean and crisp throughout. This film is a decade old, so it’s always nice to see a solid preservation take place when formats are updated. The audio also works well, with no incredibly overpowering scores or sounds needed for this procedural.

The special features keep it simple:

Making of Blood Work This feature comes in at just over 18 minutes in length, and basically sees most of the cast talking about their characters and overall experience on the film. Eastwood talks a lot here as well, and his insights are the main reason to check this piece out.

A Conversation in Spanish with Clint Eastwood, Wanda De Jesus & Paul Rodriguez – This feature comes in at just over 14 minutes in length and mainly has De Jesus and Rodriguez talking in Spanish about the film, with English subtitles appearing for those who want to watch it. Eastwood does appear near the end, and they joke back and forth a bit.

There are also a couple of trailers for Blood Work to be seen.

Blood Work is an entertaining and fun film with enough mystery dabbled throughout to keep viewers entertained. Of course, while the predictability of the story may turn off some, the work of Eastwood makes this one worth seeing at least once. Recommended.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents Blood Work. Directed by: Clint Eastwood. Written by: Brian Helgeland. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Wanda De Jesus, Anjelica Huston, Tina Lifford, Paul Rodriguez, Dylan Walsh. Running time: 110 minutes. Rating: R. Released: June 5, 2012. Available at

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