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Blood Work: Aging Eastwood Carries This Cop Thriller

<I>Blood Work</I>: Aging Eastwood Carries This Cop Thriller

Blood Work - R

Best for: Mature fans of Clint Eastwood movies.

The plot: McCaleb (Clint Eastwood), a veteran FBI profiler, was forced to retire after suffering a massive heart attack while tracking a psychopath dubbed "The Code Killer." Two years later he's living on a boat and recovering from heart transplant surgery when a woman (Wanda De Jesus) reveals that he received the heart of her murdered sister. When she asks him to find the murderer, McCaleb feels indebted and accepts, although his health is poor and his doctor (Anjelica Huston) is worried the case could kill him. He solicits help from his quirky boating neighbor, Buddy (Jeff Daniels), and the two team up to discover clues that lead them to an unusual killer. Paul Rodriguez also stars.

The good: Producer/Director and star Eastwood has taken a formula that has always worked well for him (a cop pursuing the bad guy) and updated it, taking into account his age. We immediately accept a hero in weakened condition who wants to get back in the game and feel alive again. If you're at that retirement age (whatever that is these days) you will probably relate to the character's struggle to feel accepted, useful and vibrant about life after almost losing it to poor health, especially someone who was at the top of his game.

I'm going to be honest: It is a bit of a reality check to see an older Eastwood playing a character in a weakened condition. I still think of him in those tough-guy "make my day" roles. I realize his character's heart condition is important to the story, but Eastwood was so convincing my chest started hurting after awhile. I just wanted him to lie down and rest.

Eastwood's voice is weaker, his once thick gray hair is thinning and his body is clearly showing signs of age, but that doesn't seem to bother him or stop him from taking on leading man roles. For that, I applaud him.

Don't get me wrong, he still looks good! I'm glad he's creating roles for himself and staying in the game by playing mature characters. We need that maturity in a young-minded Hollywood. However, in his last few movies, Eastwood always has a scene that requires him to take off his shirt and expose his chest. I'm sorry, but sagging flesh is not a pretty picture at any age, and it only serves to remind us that Eastwood is getting old.

I found it interesting that his character parallels his own life (married to a Hispanic news anchor) by having a romantic relationship with his Hispanic leading lady. It's all done tastefully and adds to the story. We end up caring about the woman, her motherless nephew and all of the characters involved. I liked the plot twists that slowly built to an exciting finish, leaving the audience with a satisfying ending.

Compared with a lot of who-done-it-thrillers today, this script is more laid back and toned down. Don't go expecting a fast-paced story, but do go expecting a few chase scenes, some witty dialogue, a big explosion and some humorous moments between Eastwood, Daniels and Rodriguez. It works, but more slowly than most contemporary movies.

The bad: Aside from language (stories with cops always seem to have it) there are a few scenes that show people getting shot. In one scene, a man drowns.

Offensive language: Several obscenities, a few religious profanities (mostly used by the doctor and an officer) and a few comments about having a Mexican heart in a white man's body.

Sexual situation: One scene shows a man without a shirt kissing a woman. The next scene shows the two under the sheets, but they wake up and nothing sexual is shown or said.

Violence: A videotape of a murder that takes place in a convenience store is shown repeatedly. A man is shot, then drowns. Another man is shot in the head.

Parental advisory: This is not a movie for kids or young teens. Mature teens may like it but adult fans of Eastwood probably will enjoy it the most.

It's a wrap: I always enjoy watching Eastwood movies. He still has a sparkle that makes his characters interesting and fun to watch. This probably isn't one of those movies you'll talk about at the water cooler (XXX will be the topic this week) and there aren't any famous Eastwood lines that you'll quote to your friends (other than maybe "yeah I'm ok" or "I have to take my pills"). But if you're in the mood for a cop thriller that has an interesting twist, mature characters who are real and compelling and a leading man who proves that people over 60 can still play the romantic lead, then this adult drama is for you.