Blood Work – 2002
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Brian Helgeland
Based on a novel by Michael Connelly

Retired FBI agent Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) is asked by a woman to investigate the murder of her sister, whose heart has just been transplanted into McCaleb. As he delves deeper into the case, McCaleb begins to believe that the woman was not murdered as part of a random armed robbery, but was instead shot by a serial killer that may have a connection to McCaleb’s past. The question becomes can he find the killer in his weakened state before he strikes again.

Clint Eastwood. Squinty. Grizzled. ‘nuff said.

This movie asks us to believe the outrageous premise that a 70-year-old man who just had a heart transplant can run around L.A. firing shotguns and getting into fistfights. And you know what? I don’t care. I am usually willing to swallow ludicrous plotlines for the sake of entertainment value. It’s just that Eastwood is able to sell the character so well as a sick old man, that it looks absurd when he starts chasing people and diving away from moving cars. Otherwise, this is a fine movie about a cop that likes to use his mind more than his gun.

Paul Rodriguez is absolutely wretched in this movie, giving off some of the some of the worst line readings I have ever heard. His role is obviously meant as some sort of manic comic relief in response to the ever-quiet Eastwood, but all he really does is pull you out of the film as you sit there, awestruck at his badness. Clint Eastwood has been starring in movies for over forty years and directing for over thirty, to have this level of a performance in one of his films is an embarrassment. Rodriguez’s acting in this movie makes his role in Born in East L.A. look almost Oscar-caliber.<’/p>

Now the real laughs in this movie come from Jeff Daniels’ nice turn as McCaleb’s slacker neighbor Buddy. McCaleb is afraid to drive so soon after his operation, so he hires Buddy to take him around town in exchange for cash and cases of beer. The two are mismatched so well that I envision a series of comedic buddy cop movies where McCaleb and Buddy team up to solve mysteries.

They have to find the murderer before he strikes again. If they don’t kill each other first!

Hell, I’d go see that.

Unfortunately, the movie almost completely derails when the killer is finally revealed. What was previously a nice police procedural movie suddenly turns into a huge gunfight on an abandoned boat with a kid in danger. The person who turns out to be the murderer was giving a very nice, understated performance until that point, but suddenly decides to go chewing-the-scenery insane at the end. Why do so many people feel the need to act like they're Gary Oldman? Can’t you just be bad, not crazy?

Extra points: All of the actresses are of pretty mature age, no weird-looking Entrapment-style romances with Eastwood here. The two main women are also black and latina. Racial diversity++

Loses points: Far too many shots of Eastwood with his shirt off. Chest surgery scars and liver spots, not what I needed to see.

Line I never thought I would hear Clint Eastwood say: “They must have hacked into the database!

Wait until it comes out on video.

Is the Paul Rodriguez slam more funny when referencing Born in East L.A. or A Million to Juan? Discuss.