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Dan Heller's Movie Review of "Blood Work"


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Clint Eastwood
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Clint Eastwood
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Clint Eastwood and Angelica Houston
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Clint Eastwood's long career has taken him into various dramatic landscapes, but the one he returns to most is the cop-crime thriller genre. In fact, if you'd guessed the "western", you wouldn't be that far off, since both themes are built upon a foundation that's very reminiscent of film noire, a cinematic technique found in most of Eastwood movies. His latest work, "Blood Work," is his 23rd as a director and 44th as star, also repeats a trend he is consistent about: portraying characters that are more like him as he is, not just as he wants to be as an actor. When Eastwood returned to the Western with Unforgiven in 1992, he portrayed an over-the-hill gunfighter coaxed to return, despite his better judgment,
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Clint Eastwood and Wanda De Jesus
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but finds that he inadvertently revels in it. The same element exists in "Blood Work", where he plays Terry McCaleb, an FBI detective who is forced to retire after collapsing from a heart attack while pursuing a serial killer, but is later coaxed into returning to investigative work to solve one more crime.

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Paul Rodriguez, Tina Lifford and Clint Eastwood
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In fact, that is basically the plot. Two years after his heart attack and subsequent retirement, he gets a heart transplant from a donor who happened to be the victim of an apparent store robbery. When the victim's sister points out that his new heart is her sister's, she convinces him that he owes it to her to help solve her unsolved murder, of which he was the beneficiary. It isn't long before he begins to piece together subtle clues, and before he knows it, he's reinvigorated by the chase again, yet torn about the realization that it's his presence that's the cause of it.

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Dylan Walsh and Paul Rodriguez
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What makes "Blood Work" so interesting is the wit and intelligence of the film overall. In addition, the coupling of Eastwood's ability to infuse his own age and fragility in his character, lends to the film's sense of authenticity. The plot is intriguing, puzzling, always moving forward, and suspenseful, and the process of solving puzzle is equally satisfying. I really enjoyed myself from beginning to end, even though I found it necessary to yell (to myself, but directed at a stupid actor), "NO! Don't do that!" It's almost always necessary to do that during a suspense thriller, because we, the audience, are always smarter than the characters.

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Jeff Daniels
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My only criticism of the film is the simplistic motivations of the villain. Sure, a serial killer is psychotic, and one don't necessarily have to be motivated by world events or other serious matters to push him over the edge, but it helps intensify the suspense and glory of the catch when the villain has some external motivation other than simple personal thrills. Background, history, a churning event in his
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Clint Eastwood and Jeff Daniels
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past that triggered his psychotic behavior - anything would help. But, to just have a killer to that kills "to feel connected" isn't exactly the most interesting motivation. In this case, it doesn't really hurt the film that much, but it would have helped to develop the villain a tad more than presenting him so two-dimensionally.

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