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Bloodwork (R)
Warner Bros.
Official Site
Director: Clint Eastwood
Producer: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Wanda De Jesus, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston, Paul Rodriguez, Dylan Walsh, and Tina Lifford.

Rating:


The latest film from Eastwood—which marks his 18th as producer, his 23rd as director and 44th as star—is just predictable enough to make you shake your head; just poorly acted enough to make you roll your eyes; just identical enough to every other serial killer film to induce a delirious sense of déjà vu; and just slow-paced enough that when Bloodwork’s credits finally roll, you feel as sluggish, tired, and unstable as the film’s own hero.

Based on the best-selling novel by Michael Connelly, and adapted for the screen by Brian Helgeland (who brought us fine work in the past, like L.A. Confidential and Conspiracy Theory), Bloodwork is the story of veteran FBI profiler, Terry McCaleb (Eastwood). As McCaleb is closing in on his latest nemesis—a psychopath dubbed “The Code Killer” by the media—McCaleb suffers a massive heart attack and is forced into early retirement.

Two years later, after a cardiologist (Huston) supplies him with a transplanted heart, a gorgeous stranger, Graciela Rivers (De Jesus), strolls into McCaleb’s life, and reveals a secret that compels him to re-examine his existence: McCaleb is only alive because of his new heart—a heart that came from the Graciela’s murdered sister.

Propelled by the need to justify his salvation, and against his doctor’s advise, McCaleb agrees to return to the game as a private eye, and to investigate the case of Rivers’ murdered sister. With the help of his neighbor, Buddy (Daniels), McCaleb literally risks his life and his new heart to track down the killer, who, unbeknownst to him, is truly only a heartbeat away.

Although the story is ripe with potential, and although the cast is promising, this film falls utterly flat. The script offers little in the way of pacing, and is moderate at its highest points—downright boring at its lowest. Eastwood himself provides his standard coarse-voiced tough-guy, only the sluggishness his character suffers from the transplant seems to permeate all other aspects of the film, rendering Bloodwork’s pulse faint at best.

De Jesus (whose previous work isn’t worth mentioning) is absolutely beautiful—beautiful, and nothing more. The unmotivated, melodramatic, and shamefully one-dimensional character she creates is a virus that eats its way through the otherwise trite film. I guess when Bloodwork’s casting occurred, they didn’t check first to see if De Jesus could act her way out of a wet paper sack—which I’m sure she could not.

The only entertaining portions of this film are the comedic scenes stolen by two L.A. cops (Rodriguez and Walsh). If it weren’t for their timely, sarcastic punch lines, Bloodwork would have fallen to rest next to such prized American classics as Spice World, Battlefield Earth, and Howard the Duck.

I will admit that the audience at the screening laughed frequently; unfortunately, I’m certain they were laughing at moments that Mr. Eastwood did not intend to be funny (like during the finale’s shoot-out scene). But certainly, there is something unabashedly laughable about Harry from Dumb and Dumber (Daniel’s most memorable role) maniacally firing a sub-machine gun.

Ultimately, as I trudged out of the screening room, I closed my eyes and attempted to hypnotize myself by repeating, “Unforgiven was Eastwood’s last picture; he hasn’t done one since.” I think I managed to convince myself that it was true—that this monolith of American cinema had not shattered so suddenly. So, if you’re thinking about spending the seven-and-some dollars on Bloodwork, please, heed my suggestion: put the money in a jar somewhere, and when the jar is full, run straight to the nearest hypnotist and plead, “Make me think that Unforgiven was Eastwood’s last movie… and be quick about it!

—W. Duke Greenhill

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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