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Blood Work Review

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FBI profiler Terry McCaleb has a heart attack while chasing a serial killer known as the Code Killer. Two years later, McCaleb is recovering from a transplant when he is asked to investigate the murder of the donor whose heart he now has.

★★★★★

Like John Wayne in his late '60s/early '70s vehicles, Clint Eastwood (born 1930) has reached the point in his career when he has not only to acknowledge his age, but make films about how rickety he has become; though he goes for leathery and stringy rather than fat and grumpy. With almost touching vanity, the film shaves a decade off the star's actual age and passes him off as a 60-year-old who is ordered by his doctor (a wasted Anjelica Huston) not to do anything strenuous like investigating murders or getting into fistfights with suspects. Nevertheless, the ailing Clint gets off his retirement boat and back into action in a manner not rendered any less ridiculous by the way the script - and comedy-relief marina neighbour Jeff Daniels - keeps poking fun at him.

The plot, taken by screenwriter Brian Helgeland (well off his L.A. Confidential form) from the novel by Michael Connelly, is pure mechanics, the wheels grinding at a slightly-too-leisurely pace so it's not hard to predict the twists three moves ahead. For instance, it's a dead cert from the outset that the venerable hero will get together with the victim's winsome Latina sister, the mid-30s Wanda DeJesus (she kisses his operation scar, in a nice kinky moment).

Because the villain cannily commits crimes on both sides of a jurisdiction line between the LAPD and the county sheriffs, we get contrasted, if plodding, scenes of Clint swapping insults with an obstructive Latino 'tec (Paul Rodriguez) and cooing over a Sheriff's Department investigator (Tina Lifford) he gets on with.

As for the ultimate revelation of the mad killer's identity, you should be able to guess by looking at the cast list. Like the last Dirty Harry film (The Dead Pool), Bloodwork includes a confrontation on the hulk of a ship stranded in the bay, as heroine and nephew (the dead woman's son) are imperiled and Clint must overcome his symptoms if he is to beat the baddie. Eastwood overdoes the spasms and pained looks, but still goes out his the way to confirm that he retains his virility.

As geriatric Eastwood goes, not as good as SpaceCowboys, but better than True Crime. Very silly: sometimes almost enjoyably so, often just in a tired way.