August 8, 2002 
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Eastwood to the rescue again!
No genius filmmaking, but Blood Work is a thoughtful film

Som Chivukula

Before he made the acclaimed comedy-cum- sci-fi drama Space Cowboys two years ago, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in two thrillers True Crime (1999) and Absolute Power (1997).

While the latter, based on a best-selling novel by David Baldacci, received fairly good reviews and broke even with a $50 million haul in North America, True Crime was a critical and box-office disappointment, making just $17 million.

Now, 72-year-old Eastwood is back with Blood Work, about a retired FBI profiler in search of a serial killer. Like his frail character in the film faced with an uphill task of solving a crime, Eastwood may feel some pressure from Warner Brothers of producing another hit --- after Space Cowboys, released by the same studio, grabbed $100 million. The normally private actor is making the rounds on the talk show circuit promoting the film.

Eastwood's presence may be enough to bring in the older crowd and some loyal fans. But the film also has strong performances from others and suspense. It incorporates elements of such Eastwood films as Dirty Harry and In the Line of Fire.

Eastwood, once again, casts himself in the lead role, as Terry McCaleb. Terry is slowly recovering from a heart transplant after a near fatal heart attack tracking down a killer. One day, a stranger, Graciela Rivers (Wanda de Jesus), visits him to request Terry to investigate the death of her sister. Graciela tells him that he received his heart from her sister, forcing him to get involved.

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Terry is living a fairly peaceful life on a boat he renovated into a home. His friend and neighbour Buddy (Jeff Daniels) is a bum, waiting for Terry to begin his detective work so that he can help out and make some money. Soon Terry finds himself going against the system, led by a cop (Paul Rodriguez) and the wishes of his doctor (Anjelica Huston). But Terry cannot forget that he is alive because someone else is dead.

Like In the Line of Fire, Blood Work effectively uses the ploy of the killer playing mind games with the detective. After each brutal murder, there are taunting messages for Terry. Of course, with his vigilante attitude, Terry is very much reminiscent of Dirty Harry. In one scene, Terry starts firing at a car suspecting the killer had been stalking him.

Clint Eastwood in Blood Word One of the strong points of the movie is that Eastwood's character is about same age he is in real life. Quite simply, it's fun to see an old guy, one with Eastwood's resume, run up and down the street to track down the suspect. The supporting performances are also quite strong. Daniels, with his long hair, seems like he stepped out to make the sequel to Dumb and Dumber and he has some of the new movie's funniest lines. De Jesus and Huston also do justice to their brief roles.

Blood Work is no genius filmmaking but it is a thoughtful film with real emotions and heart pangs that could certainly be given a chance by viewers of all ages.

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