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
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
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