"How Eastwood keeps busy between Unforgivens and Million Dollar Babys."
One can’t fault a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for being predictable; there’s a certain comfortable familiarity with the sandwich that transcends the fact that you’ve probably eaten 5,000 of them throughout your life. Clint Eastwood’s "Blood Work" is a lot like a well-made PB & J: familiar, fairly uneventful and boasting no real surprises – but still quite tasty and inviting all the same.Terry McCaleb is an aging FBI agent, and one who’s suffered an embarrassing heart attack while in pursuit of a serial killer. Facing retirement after his recovery, McCaleb attaches himself to one of those “last cases” that movie cops are so fond of and before too long he’s chest-deep in chases, clues and the inevitably unpleasant local cops. (That one victim was the woman who donated McCaleb’s new heart is the impetus for the aged agent’s involvement.)
Fortunately the whole “I have her heart!” theme is mentioned only as a plot point and is not done with the cloying silliness of Bonnie Hunt’s rom-com Return to Me. Still, if the synopsis sounds like something usually found as part of a made-for-TV flick, it’s the presence of Eastwood (both behind the camera and in front) that elevates the material into a solid piece of entertainment. A film can be familiar and still worth seeing; it’s just kind of rare.
Eastwood’s supporting cast is a mixed bag at best: Jeff Daniels and Angelica Huston have made a career out of salvaging underwritten roles and each does great work here. Conversely, Wanda De Jesus (as Eastwood’s appropriately-aged love interest) often seems lost, while Paul Rodriguez gives a truly obnoxious performance as a loud-mouthed local cop.
Chalk it up to Eastwood’s expertise behind the camera, as Blood Work is easily more entertaining than it has any right to be. There’s very little here that you haven’t seen before, yet the celebrated actor/director somehow manages to make such potentially tiresome material into something considerably better than the TV flick it clearly looks like."Blood Work" is proof positive that a seasoned filmmaker (one who actually cares about the craft of filmmaking) can sometimes breathe new life into even the hoariest of cop-flick contrivances.