Dud work

Blood Work is yet another movie in which an aging detective comes back for one last hoo-hah

Play “Misty” for me?

Play “Misty” for me?

Rated 1.0

Clint Eastwood directs his 23rd feature film in Blood Work, a movie that contains a game performance from the squinty one, but falls prey to one of the worst scripts the man has ever chosen to present.

Eastwood plays Terry McCaleb, a homicide investigator who suffers a major coronary while pursuing a murder suspect. The film jumps from its decent opening chase scene to two years later, after McCaleb has gotten a heart transplant. From here on in, things get pretty stupid.

It seems that the new heart beating in the chest of McCaleb came from a female murder victim, whose sister (Wanda De Jesus) approaches him looking for help finding the killer. McCaleb, feeling that he owes something to the victim, comes out of retirement for one last investigation. This move irritates his cardiologist (a huffy Anjelica Huston) who, like any good doctor, turns her back on her patient and sends him away because he refuses to follow orders. Damned PPOs!

In seeing this film, prepare for the visual treat of the 70-plus Eastwood getting it on with the much younger De Jesus. Hey, he’s impressive for 70-plus, but come on now. De Jesus interrupts him as he admires his surgery scar in the mirror, and things get all romantical. She utters something along the lines of “Show me your heart,” before fondling his wrinkled torso. I didn’t fully comprehend what she was saying, for I was too busy trying to prevent myself from vomiting by thinking joyful thoughts of baseball and pie.

It’s obvious that this film is Clint Eastwood’s way of toying with his Dirty Harry image. It’s too bad he couldn’t actually make the character Dirty Harry. McCaleb is based on a character from a series of crime novels, and he lacks those winning personality traits that made Dirty Harry such a treasured bastard.

This guy is just sort of plain and uninteresting. Eastwood does a decent job conveying the effects of open-heart surgery (constantly taking his temperature, walking around for the majority of the movie with a fever), but his character isn’t very well written. He’s a dud.

While Eastwood’s acting is at least serviceable, the same can’t be said for just about everyone else in this film, a cast overloaded with relative unknowns. Jeff Daniels fares best as the beer drinking, harmonica-playing houseboat neighbor, enlisted to drive McCaleb around in his beat-up car. (McCaleb can’t take his own because the airbags could crush his surgically impaired chest.)

Standup comedian Paul Rodriguez is dreadful in a dramatic turn that contains no nuance. As an ornery detective who has “had it up to here” with McCaleb’s showy case-solving antics, Rodriguez takes what could’ve been a decent dramatic opportunity and resorts to generic blustering and bitching. His character almost seems like a parody, a bit part in a Police Academy film.

As for the mystery this film presents, it’s laughable. The cast of characters presents little room for mistake in guessing the killer, and Eastwood has broken one of filmdom’s main rules when it comes to casting a murder mystery: Thou shalt not cast a semi-big movie star in something that looks like a bit part, because it is doubtful that the semi-big movie star would take the gig just to stand around and offer comic relief.

Eastwood is a movie god, and even his bad films usually have some redeeming value. Blood Work is certainly one of his worst, coming in well under the likes of Unforgiven and The Outlaw Josey Wales. However, it is worlds better than Sudden Impact, so at least he has that going for him.