Blood Work (2002)

Genres - Thriller, Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Detective Film  |   Release Date - Aug 9, 2002 (USA)  |   Run Time - 111 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

When the deconstructive Western Unforgiven brought Clint Eastwood unprecedented respect, it was tempting to hope the newly minted auteur would reserve himself for superior projects and artistic themes close to his heart. What an appropriate metaphor for his career, then, that Eastwood's latest, Blood Work, is about a transplant of that essential organ. It's as though what makes Eastwood tick has been supplanted by a foreign presence his body can't reject, leaving him content to toe the (assembly) line and glumly perpetuate his Absolute Power-True Crime school of pedestrian thrillers. It's also tempting to suggest that this aging treasure of tough guy machismo has "still got it," but Blood Work returns quite the opposite verdict. Eastwood is finally starting to look fragile and elderly -- in fact, thank goodness his character is weak following major surgery, because it provides a narrative explanation why the actor's voice is more gasp than rasp. But Blood Work is depressing in so many ways that aren't traceable to Eastwood's frailties. Tops on the list is the utter conventionality of the script, which follows the familiar path of the umpteen thrillers in which serial killers taunt celebrity FBI agents for the purpose of aggrandizing and fetishizing their crimes. Brian Helgeland has fallen far from his days as writer of L. A. Confidential if this soap opera dialogue and ham-fisted foreshadowing is all he can muster. The tone is schizophrenic, caught between the misplaced gravity of Eastwood's recent films, the ludicrous renegade posturing of his Dirty Harry days, and a cops-and-donuts style of comedy (embodied by pesky irritant Paul Rodriguez) that was never fashionable. Long before the laughable finish, the test results of this Blood Work have already come back negative.