Clint Eastwood’s latest suffers from a schizoid plot
Blood Work, the new Clint Eastwood vehicle, has a mild case of split personality. On the one hand, it seems be gutsy and up-front about its handsomely grizzled star’s age. On the other hand, it would have us believe that the Eastwood movie persona is as young as it ever was.
It’s a police story whose basic premises focus on the unconcealed aging of the star—Eastwood plays an aging cop whose heart transplant is part of what gets him involved in a post-retirement murder case. Organ transplants and blood types turn out to be key elements in the spasmodically unfolding plot, but the murder mystery also leaks into a rather contrived drama of redemption and renewal, via the cop’s amorous relationships with not one but two younger women.
Scripted by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential), Blood Work opens with a number of modestly interesting possibilities but eventually strangles itself on a series of outlandish plot twists. The oddly skewed performances of an interesting supporting cast hint that Eastwood the director might be working things up as weirdly ironic fantasy (with perhaps a slightly crazed cop sinking into paranoid dementia).
But whatever is intriguingly offbeat in the early reels becomes grotesquely conventional once the murder mystery begins to work itself out. Blood Work doesn’t exactly give “Dirty Harry” a new lease on life, but its attempt to provide a “new heart” for some of the nastier fantasies of Eastwood’s police movies is something of an embarrassment on the whole.
The oddball attempts at humor (via contrasting characters played by Jeff Daniels and Paul Rodriguez) eventually sink into the gruesome ooze of the movie’s presiding sentiments. Early on, it raises the possibility that California’s "three strikes" law has become a motive for murders that otherwise would not have been committed, but that of course is not something that a Hollywood crime film will follow through on.