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Blood Work

Clint Eastwood directed and stars in this better-than-average murder mystery as Terry McCaleb, a former hotshot FBI profiler whose career was ended by a crippling case of on-the-job cardiac arrest. Retired and recuperating from a long-awaited heart transplant, McCaleb reluctantly is drawn back into a new investigation he can't resist: the unsolved murder of his new ticker's donor. In Eastwood's hands as a director — and the straight screenwriting of L.A. Confidential's Brian Hegeland from Michael Connelly's novel — Blood Work skillfully avoids the easy, high-concept silliness its plot practically begs for. The mechanics of the mystery, while solid and entertaining, are familiar, and seasoned film buffs should have it solved within the first hour. But it's nevertheless a pleasure to watch McCaleb wearily hunt down the clues against the advice of his doctor (Anjelica Huston). Better than any other veteran actor, Eastwood, often producing and directing, has been able to turn his age into a vital dramatic asset, and McCaleb provides a terrific vehicle for him to continue his streak of broken-but-vital tough guys haggardly hunting the healing balm of justice. Another nice touch in Blood Work is the introduction of unfamiliar faces in key roles, like Wanda De Jesus and Tina Lifford, freshening up a stale genre and balancing rote characters like the angry Mexican detective played by Paul Rodriguez. Also with Jeff Daniels as Eastwood's daffy neighbor. Warner's DVD release of Blood Work features a great-looking anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The disc also includes the featurette Making Blood Work and a "Conversation in Spanish" with Eastwood, De Jesus, and Rodriguez. Trailers, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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