Blood Work

8 out of 10

Whodunnit For Everyone

903-472-568. So now you know who did it? Maybe with an IQ of 300 such a feat might be possible, but no matter, clues keep slipping into "BloodWork" that are increasingly simple until it become obvious to even the most clueless of people who murderer is.

Whereas most actors tend to move down market into ever more numerous and cheaper flicks like romantic comedies, Clint Eastwood has decidedly moved the other direction. Having started gunslinging in spaghetti westerns, this grand old man of the cinema has honed himself to directing and acting in only about one movie a year and invariably those with a great script, and "Blood Work" is certainly no exception.

Whilst the story of a retired FBI profiler who analysed serial killers, called on by a determined woman to find her sister's killer seems trite, it is a tale that pans out into a fine whodunnit, based on a mystery novel by Michael Connolly. After receiving a heart attack chasing a suspect, Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) who now lives quitely on a boat, is delighted at first to receive a heart transplant that saves his life, but is thrown into a moral dilemma when he discovers from Graciella Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) that it was pulled from a sister after being summarily slain in a corner shop hold-up. With the local Police making no real attempt to find the killer, Terry finds that he cannot refuse to help the woman, despite clear warnings from his doctor (Anjelica Houston) that the effort will surely cause rejection of his new heart and kill him. To ease the stress, Terry asks Buddy (Jeff Daniels at his comic best), a layabout who lives on the next boat on his father's money, to act as his chauffeur and general bodyguard. As he follows the clues, including many red herrings, his route to an unexpected truth will bring him into contact with all sorts of people including a computer hacker, a Russian mobster Bolotov (Igor Jijikine) and two, highly suspicious and obstructive cops.

There are a couple of action scenes at the start and end. And at 76, when most actors would be strained doing a cameo in a gardening programme on TV, the sight of Eastwood, sprinting down alleyways and bounding over fences, looking more like a 40 year old, is one that surely must inspire the most arthritic of octogenarians. Even so, make no mistake about it - "Blood Work" is no trigger-pumping farce. True to his beliefs, Eastwood has shown a care for detail in dealing with his characters, not least with the wide variety of Hispanics that seems almost unique in Hollywood so that you feel almost as much for them as the story itself. Indeed, one suspects, Eastwood had more than a hands-on approach to the fine dialogue with the script credited as being written by Brian Helgeland, a man responsible for more than his fair share of cinematic meltdowns like "The Order" and certainly failed to deliver with "The Postman".

Although a box office failure, probably through it being misunderstood, " Blood Work" remains a highly intriguing work with clues cleverly hidden throughout allowing anyone to beat Clint to punch to solve the crime. And when you've seen it, the first thing you will want to do is to go straight back and see it again to wonder how you missed the clues the first time around!

A Highly Intelligent Mystery Thriller

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett