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Veteran FBI agent Terrence McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) suffers a heart attack while chasing a serial murderer known as The Code Killer; he leaves a digital code at the crime scene. After waiting two years for a heart transplant and retiring, McCaleb is contacted by Graciella Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) who asks him to find the masked bandit responsible for her sister's death. McCaleb reluctantly agrees to help Graciella when she reveals that her sister's heart is the one now keeping him alive. His investigations lead back to the trail of The Code Killer. 

Review by Louise Keller:
This is the kind of top detective story layered with sublime characterisations that works well in the cinema or at home. The big surprise on the DVD is the inclusion of a feature with conversations in Spanish (and subtitles). Co-star Wanda De Jesus talks about Clint Eastwood’s sense of humour and gives some instances on the set, while Paul Rodriguez highlights the recent successes of Spanish and Hispanic artists such as Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Lopez and Jimmy Smits. My favourite scene is when De Jesus, Rodriguez and Eastwood appear together, and we learn that Eastwood speaks more Spanish than he actually lets on.

It’s a joy to watch Clint Eastwood at work in this his 18th film as producer, his 23rd as director and 44th as star. And at this point in his career, Eastwood is astute enough to use everything to his advantage, including his age. The film contains all the ingredients you would expect from this polished performer: splendid direction, vital script and terrific performances. The film begins and ends with laid-back jazz, but in between we become connected to Eastwood’s protagonist, just as he is connected to the crime scene, the victim and all the elements, when at the top of his game in the FBI. We quickly understand the type of person that Terry McCaleb is. A thorough professional, he is a man of few words on the job – unlike one detective colleague who can’t keep his tongue still for a moment. ‘Once you can joke about it, you shouldn’t be doing it,’ says McCaleb, when Detective Arrango (Paul Rodriguez) cracks an off-joke at a gruesome crime scene. McCaleb charms everyone – just as Eastwood charms us. 

It’s an absorbing story, as we follow McCaleb in his pursuit of the killer, when his decency drags him out of retirement. There are red herrings and twists, a romance that works surprisingly well, and a good balance of laid back humour with good lines. ‘Any clues lead to the beach?’ asks Buddy, when McCaleb tells his unofficial partner that they go where the clues lead. It’s all about the forgotten detail, which he sets out to discover. The characters are beautifully written: we feel as though we know them. And what a top cast with Anjelica Huston as the caring, no-nonsense cardiologist, Jeff Daniels as the idle, harmonica-playing neighbour Buddy, Wanda de Jesus as the warm, tenacious stranger and Tina Lifford as the compassionate former colleague. There are plenty of tense moments as the cat and mouse game reaches its thrilling conclusion. It’s edgy, stimulating and absolutely satisfying. I enjoyed every moment of Blood Work with its juxtaposition of good and evil, drama and comedy and characters that we feel we know.

For an added insight into the making of the film, check out ‘Making Blood Work’ a short behind-the-scenes documentary in which we meet each of the stars. 

Published June 12, 2003

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(US) - 2002

CAST: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston, Wanda de Jesus

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

PRESENTATION: Transfer radio – 16: 9; Audio – Eng 5.1; French 5.1; Italian 5.1; Theatrical ratio 2.35:1; subtitles – English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, English for the hearing impaired, Italian for the hearing impaired

SPECIAL FEATURES: Making Blood Work – a behind the scenes documentary on the making of the film; A conversation in Spanish

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: June 11, 2003

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