The Heart Of The Matter

A well-written novel that nevertheless fails on the big screen.

All you Clint Eastwood fans out there, who expect Hollywood's legendary bad boy to relive his glory in his latest attempt at a suspense thriller, "Blood Work" will sadly leave you very disappointed.

The movie kicks off with an introduction to John McCaleb (Clint Eastwood), a very successful FBI profiler of serial killers. McCaleb is on the trail of the "code killer", a serial killer who is playing a game with him. Just as McCaleb is on the verge of nabbing the bad guy, he has a heart attack, which forces him into a heart transplant and retirement. Two years later, he is visited by the beautiful Graciella Rivers (Wanda de Jesus), who pleads with McCaleb to help her in nabbing the person who murdered her sister.

McCaleb, who then learns that his new heart is actually Rivers' dead sister's heart, feels obligated and decides to help. Much to the disapproval of his concerned doctor (Angelica Huston), and to the annoyance of Detective Ronaldo Arrango (Paul Rodriguez), who is already assigned to the case, McCaleb begins an investigation with the help of his over-enthusiastic neighbor, Buddy (Jeff Daniels).

In my opinion, "Blood Work" has underutilized a very interesting storyline. It has the advantage of a brilliant and original plot, which has quite frankly been taken for granted. The direction, too, was quite a half-hearted effort, and made the overall movie seem like it actually lacked feel.

The worst aspect of the movie was the acting and the character portrayals. Apart from Jeff Daniels, I did not find any actor in the movie worth a watch. Anjelica Huston was wasted as a small time appearance as McCaleb's doctor and even Clint Eastwood is not up to his usual mark with his portrayal of McCaleb. Wanda de Jesus played the role of the distraught sister with as much emotional expression as a two-year-old in a school play, and Paul Rodriguez seems to pass on irritation through the screen. The production in the movie, too, was fairly average, and nothing worth a special mention.

The only thing I really enjoyed about this movie was the musical score. The smooth and jazzy opening score in the beginning of the movie got me immediately hooked onto the music, and reminded me of Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" movies. It added just the right feel and intensity to the moment, especially for a detective suspense thriller.

Overall, "Blood Work" is only worth a watch if you are a devout Clint Eastwood fan. In my opinion, if a little more care and emphasis were laid on the acting and the script, this movie would have been a far better watch.

This article was first published on 12 May 2003.