Directed by Clint Eastwood starring Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Wanda De Jesús and Anjelica Huston.
In the ten years since his Best Director success at the Oscars, Eastwood has never built on the praise he earned for 'Unforgiven'. As actor/director he's plumped for one a string of literary adaptations - 'Absolute Power', 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' and 'True Crime' - which leave you with neither the urge to either read the book nor see the film again. Now comes 'Blood Work', his take on crime writer Michael Connelly's bestseller and easily one of the worst films in Eastwood's career.
Looking every day of his 72 years, Eastwood plays Terry McCaleb, a former FBI profiler whose heart problems were his undoing during his last, still unsolved case. Now attempting to live the gentlest of lives after a transplant, McCaleb is called upon by Graciella Rivers, a woman (De Jesús) whose sister was the victim of a robbery homicide. She wants him to find the killer but, sensing the stress would far outweigh the satisfaction, he declines. And then Rivers drops the bombshell, which turns McCaleb around: he's the recipient of her sister's heart.
The only drama you get with 'Blood Work' is not from watching McCaleb trying to crack the case but in looking through your hands as Eastwood the actor shuffles from one dud scene to another. Never strong on range, Eastwood always had presence but here he looks lost in his own movie, throwing out lines which wouldn't sound right in a midweek made for TV effort and never connecting with any of the (admittedly poor) characters surrounding him.
From behind he the lens he resorts to hilarious did-you-miss-this? flashbacks, dozy police procedure scenes and even a 10,000 rounds of ammo finale, where instead of playing up McCaleb's frailty, he lets him run around a disused ship playing bang bang with the killer. How 'LA Confidential' scriptwriter Brian Helgeland got mixed up in this mess - which even changes the killer's identity from Connelly's book - defies belief but both he and Eastwood should spend the next five years gargling to get rid of the taste.
It would be great to think that Eastwood has one great film or even one great role - like James Coburn in 'Affliction' or Richard Farnsworth in 'The Straight Story' – left, but 'Blood Work' suggests he should heed the advice given to his character and enjoy retirement. Instead, he's now directing Sean Penn and Tim Robbins in 'Mystic River', yet another bigscreen makeover of a crime fiction novel. But after seeing this, no one should be counting down the days to its release.