Directed by Clint Eastwood. USA. 2002.
First you should know that my father, on top of being one of the leading cancer research scientists in the world, is a professor at a local university.
His affectionate nickname among his students is “The Ax.”
Anyway, one September day my father had taken me out to lunch at a local coffee shop. In the middle of enjoying our incredibly overpriced sandwiches, and various coffee drinks Dad noted that one of his students was eating lunch a few tables over, and thought he’d have a little fun with him. So, mid-sentence he barked out “GET BACK TO CLASS,” and chortled into his sandwich.
I have never seen anybody move so fast.
This poor kid was up from his seat in about two seconds, gathered his food in his arms and took off out the door. My dad yelled after him that he was only joking around, but his student didn’t hear him because sound only travels so fast.
I am dedicating this review to my dad, because not only is he a HUGE Clint Eastwood fan, but also looks remarkably like him (I’m not sure whether or not that adds to my father’s intimidation level. Depends on your perspective I suppose).
Bloodwork (based on the novel by Michael Connelly) is the story of retired police detective Terry McCaleb. While recovering from a heart transplant McCaleb (mainly done on an EXTREMELY nifty houseboat) discovers ties between his heart donor, and a serial killer still on the loose.
Clint Eastwood (Space Cowboys, Unforgiven) stars as the crime fighting veteran. McCaleb is an interesting, amiable role chock full of charm. (And yet, at the same time scary as heck. In one particular chase scene Clint runs through a wire fence. I am frankly surprised that the fence didn’t leap out of his way when it saw him coming. Perhaps it was a stunt fence. I digress...) Though he does engage in some possibly unwise recent transplantee activities (i.e. engaging in high speed foot races, eating pastries, and becoming a participant in numerous bar scraps) Eastwood makes his cop street smart, savvy, and as likeable as his roles ever gets. Eastwood is an irresistible curmudgeon.
Jeff Daniels (The Butcher’s Wife, Gettysburg) plays McCaleb’s next-boat neighbour/unofficial partner Buddy Noone. This was a GREAT part for the underrated Daniels, giving him the chance to be at once adorable, and disconcerting at the same time, as his enthusiasm for chumming about with McCaleb was always tainted with a wonder about why Noone showed so much interest in personal details of murder victims he should have no interest in whatsoever. Daniels gives Noone a real dark boy-next-door quality, giddy and fun as long as you overlook that pesky alcoholic/fraud thing. A nicely layered performance.
Anjelica Huston (The Royal Tenenbaums, The Addams Family) plays the role that 99% of the women in the audience were empathizing with; McCaleb’s doctor Bonnie Fox. What a great female role, strong, intelligent, and hilarious. I imagine Huston will be getting a lot of letters from women telling her that they knew just how frustrated she felt when McCaleb, demonstrating his respect for medical professionals everywhere, ignored every post-transplant suggestion she made. (See my earlier paragraph regarding the pastry eating, bar scrapping, high speed foot racing statement.)
I love Clint Eastwood’s films, and Bloodwork is no exception. As a director he has a uncompromising style, insuring memorable settings, lovely music, and top notch performers in every role. The camera work is always fantastic (the convenience store scene is still sticking in my brain) and the script was tightly written. But the highest possible compliment I can pay this mystery film is:
I didn’t see the ending coming.
I am the acknowledged queen of mystery movies. My friends all know that I am in possession of an unnerving ability to announce the solution to just about any mystery film before the final act (and I am including The Usual Suspects, and The 6th Sense in my accomplishments). But the twist at the end of Bloodwork totally grabbed me by surprise. Eastwood’s newest film is a wonderful example of what a Hollywood veteran can do with great material, and is well worth a visit.
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