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'Blood Work'

Clint Eastwood is an ailing hero in 'Blood Work'

Friday, August 09, 2002

By Barry Paris, Post-Gazette Movie Critic

I never thought it would come to this, but it has: Clint Eastwood and I have an astonishing number of things in common: our mean, lean, perfectly muscular bodies; our coolness under fire; our surefire lady-killer instincts; his fistful of dollars -- and my fistful of Giant Eagle coupons.

'Blood Work'

RATING: R for violence and profanity

STARRING: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood

WEB SITE: bloodworkmovie.com


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But above all, and most of all: a heart attack in the line of duty -- accompanied by a no-nonsense female cardiologist from hell (Anjelica Huston).

Such is his situation in "Blood Work," in which Clint plays FBI agent Terry McCaleb -- celebrated, taciturn individualist -- zealously pursuing a psychopathic serial killer until suddenly forced into retirement by cardiac instead of criminal arrest.

He needs a heart transplant, and he gets one. But the organ donor turns out to have been a victim of the same killer, and the donor's sister (Wanda De Jesus) guilt-trips Clint into dragging himself out of his houseboat in order to find and bring the culprit to justice.

The script by Brian Helgeland (based on the novel by Michael Connelly) is nicely written -- if slow moving. In the climactic confrontation with the killer, Eastwood tells De Jesus: "If I don't call you in half an hour, get the hell outta here."

A half hour? Z-z-z-z-z....

Jeff Daniels does a nice turn as Clint's weirdo neighbor-turned-sidekick -- and maybe more. Paul Rodriguez is also good as the bitter rival who resents Clint's celebrity detective status.

This is Eastwood's 44th film as star and 23rd as director. As icons go, he is a dull and overrated one. He is ancient but solid. I never liked him in his prime. I like him better decrepit, with the dignity of showing himself to be so. Macho film guys are a dime a dozen. Macho film guys in seriously deteriorating condition are a rarer -- and more admirable -- breed.

Barry Paris can be reached at 412-263-3859.

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