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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Blood Work
Blood Work
Warner Bros. // R // December 27, 2002
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted December 16, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Clint Eastwood has found his films meeting with less interest over the years, as his low-key and old-fashioned dramas are often getting pushed aside by flashier fare (in the case of "Blood Work", it opened on the same weekend as "XXX"), with the exception of 2000's "Space Cowboys". Eastwood's thrillers have often been enjoyable, intelligent fare, with fine acting and technical credits. 1999's "True Crime", while seemingly not that well-recieved, was a tense and energetic drama that kept boosting the suspense.

"Blood Work", which ended up grossing not much more than "True Crime" during its release last Summer, is not as enjoyable a thriller. While somewhat well-acted and very professionally made, its plot is often fairly predictable (most will guess where its headed within the first 30 minutes) and its elements made up of largely standard genre parts and pieces. Eastwood plays retired FBI profiler Terry McCaleb, who left his job after a heart transplant. Later, the sister (Wanda De Jesus) of the heart donor visits him and asks him to solve the unsolved case. Off he goes, matched with a new partner who is actually his neighbor (Jeff Daniels, mis-cast), even though he's not on the force anymore. Of course, this leads to current officers telling him something along the lines of, "You don't have a badge anymore!".

That's really the main fault of "Blood Work", aside from the occasional twist it throws out to try and shake up the audience. Eastwood's "True Crime" was a thriller that had Eastwood racing to solve a case, while "Space Cowboys" had a rather slow first half and second that provided enough danger and tension to become considerably more involving. "Blood Work" is more low-key than any of Eastwood's films in recent memory, pushing forward in some parts at a glacial speed. The desire to solve the case versus McCaleb's declining health (although irritatingly presented, as all of the characters tell him some variation on, "You don't look too good.") is the one of the few layers that adds tension and drama in the second half.

The performances aren't bad, but there are a few problems. Paul Rodriguez, who is usually quite funny, is only on-hand to offer some wisecracks and insults that seem both pointless and badly timed. Daniels isn't right for the role and never really registers much as a character. Eastwood is, once again, playing Eastwood quite well, although this seems like his least lively performance in quite some time. Anjelica Huston is the best of the supporting cast, doing a lot with little dialogue and not a particularly well-developed character.

While "Blood Work" had its moments here and there, I was surprised that much of it dragged to varying degrees. Hopefully, the director/actor's next effort (2003's "Mystic River") will be a more involving picture.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Blood Work" is presented by Warner Brothers in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a fine transfer that ranks highly among the studio's recent efforts. The presentation offers Tom Stern's enjoyable cinematography with crisp, fine detail. The lack of all but a few flaws makes for an even more enjoyable and film-like appearance to the image.

The picture doesn't show many faults, which is what should be expected from such a new feature. The print used doesn't show much in the way of faults, aside from a brief speck or two. Edge enhancement is kept to a bare minimum, while no artifacts or other concerns are present. The film's color palette, which seemed largely on the subdued side, looked accurately rendered here.

SOUND: "Blood Work" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is a fairly enjoyable soundtrack, which provides a decent amount of activity at some moments and little or none at others. After the audio is fairly aggressive early on, the film's soundtrack settles in, largely coming from the front speakers. The surrounds still do kick in now and then, providing some minimal ambience. Audio quality was fine, as dialogue remained crisp and clear, while the ambience and other sound effects remained natural.

EXTRAS: Not too much: there's a fairly standard "Making Of", along with a Spanish (w/English subtitles) interview featurette, the film's theatrical & teaser trailers and minimal bios.

Final Thoughts: I like the detective genre and I like Eastwood, but I just didn't find "Blood Work" very compelling. Warner Brothers has provided a fine DVD, with very good audio/video quality, but little in the way of supplements. Rent it.

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