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Someone's got Terry McCaleb's number. A veteran FBI profiler, McCaleb is unrelenting in his pursuit of justice and unequalled in his success at tracking and catching murderers. But as he closes his latest adversary--a psychopath dubbed "The Code Killer" by the media--McCaleb is felled by a massive heart attack and forced into early retirement. Two years later, a beautiful stranger reveals a secret that compels McCaleb to re-examine his recovery: his life was saved by someone else's death--the victim of a murder that remained unsolved. Against the advice of his cardiologist, and with the help of an eager neighbor, McCaleb literally puts his life on the line to track down a murderer who has forced him to take this case personally.
For more about Blood Work and the Blood Work Blu-ray release, see Blood Work Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston, Wanda de Jesus, Tina Lifford, Paul Rodríguez
Director: Clint Eastwood
» See full cast & crew
Blood Work Blu-ray Review
A Police Procedural with (a replacement) heart.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 5, 2012
I think we're going to need fresh blood to solve this one.
Clint Eastwood both acts in and directs Blood Work, a somewhat slow moving and not very deep but nonetheless enjoyable 2002 Police Procedural with an interesting twist or two up its valves. Eastwood portrays Terry McCaleb, an aging former FBI agent for whom the thrill of the chase runs steadily through his old veins. He's hot on the trail of a killer who seems to have the hots for him (not literally), the madman leaving a trademark code and message for his pursuer at every crime scene. But a sudden change of heart will leave McCaleb's chase stalled...or will it merely pump new blood into the pursuit of the truth? Blood Work arrives on the big screen sourced from the pages of acclaimed Author Michael Connelly's book of the same name, the story a hybrid Medical Thriller and Police Drama, with emphasis on the latter but built around the former. The film maneuvers through well-worn genre territory, at least on its surface, but dabbles in some fascinating subplots, all built upon a unique foundational premise that offers up a potential for a darker and deeper character study than what normally finds a way into the average Cop Drama. Blood Work never quite manages to center up its themes and explore them very far beyond the superficial, but the novel premise, solid Eastwood direction, and his typically involved, commanding, and precise on-screen performance all make Blood Work a superior Drama, even if it pumps out more cliché than is healthy for a movie aspiring to rise above the pack.
FBI Agent Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino) has become a centerpiece in a string of grisly murders. The killer is taunting McCaleb, leaving behind coded messages and calling him out by name in crime-scene writings. When McCaleb catches a glimpse of the man he believes may be the killer amongst the spectators gathered around the latest crime scene, he pursues on foot, but falls victim to a heart attack before he can catch his man. Two years later, McCaleb has a new ticker in his chest and a new lease on life. He's retired but living it up on a little boat docked in a California marina. He's neighbors with the trusting and friendly Buddy (Jeff Daniels, Speed), and even if he's no longer on the clock, life for Terry McCaleb is good. But one day he's visited by Graciella Rivers (Wanda De Jesus, The Ministers), a mysterious woman who has some startling news: her sister's been murdered, and it's her heart that now beats in Terry's chest. Graciella requests that he take a look into her sister's death, which he does against the wishes of his physician (Anjelica Huston, Ever After) and his old friends in the law enforcement community. But as Terry begins searching for answers, he unearths a startling truth about the real story behind his present heart and his law enforcement past, both of which could spell big trouble for his immediate future.
Blood Work crafts a dramatically involved, structurally steady, and thematically surprising story, working through a somewhat complex plot that both could and should have been a bit deeper and darker than it is here, but the end result is a workhorse of a movie, a picture that strides and carries its load with little effort but not an abundance of grace. The picture plays with a consistent cadence and a healthy, dependable pulse. Strong vitals and a healthy premise guarantee a quality cinema experience, and even if it never races to a rising and rapid heartbeat, the picture maintains a natural, steady rhythm. The resultant low strain, moderate exertion workload makes this the choice for a healthy genre watch. The absence of a more vigorous routine is overshadowed by what is a deceptively intoxicating picture. Blood Work promises, and delivers, heightened drama that's accentuated by heavy but realistic action. The film strives to tell a tale rather than merely show a story. Eastwood's direction largely stays out of the way, allowing the plot to envelop the audience, and even if the darker ramifications and truly deep human elements never reach the surface, the quality of the mystery and the promise of what is always on the precipice both leave viewers hanging on to every development, examining every lead, working over every detail as it all comes together, as Eastwood assembles a complete film, but certainly not a perfect film.
Clint Eastwood's portrayal of grizzled and determined former lawman Terry McCaleb might never be remembered as one of the actor's more iconic performances, but the veteran actor certainly knows exactly how to handle him. Eastwood injects a sense of frustrated tension into the character, combined with a general wear-and-tear of old age that's something of a double whammy for McCaleb, a character who has perhaps always been more of a thinker rather than a fighter, but the operation, simple numbers, and father time all keep him not out of the picture but certainly far removed from the center where he'd like to be. Eastwood delivers a performance that captures those frustrations and the natural limits, but he's further restrained from finding that deeper, darker arc thanks to a script that simply whittles him down to a rather flat character who's more a product of the story's general arc than he is the nitty gritty dark and dirty details that must exist under the surface, or in this case, within his chest. Still, the movie works very well despite its failure to find that next gear that would have transformed the movie from intriguing take on an old cliché into something far more interesting and outside of the mainstream, even while embracing mainstream elements. The movie is otherwise strongly cast and adequately paced, though it suffers through some borderline painful scenes centered around Paul Rodriguez's loudmouthed, stereotyped comic relief sort of character. The movie needed to go in the other direction, to a darker, less forgiving place rather than a lighter, goofier plane. All told, however, Blood Work succeeds as a movie taking a bland genre and injecting some life into it, enough to take it off of life support but not quite enough to achieve its potential.
Blood Work Blu-ray, Video Quality
Blood Work's Blu-ray debut impresses. Warner Brothers' 1080p transfer for this decade-old catalogue title delivers a wonderfully crisp, nicely detailed image that goes a little soft around a few edges, but otherwise delivers a well-rounded and largely flawless viewing experience. Very light grain retention is evident, and fine details yield often marvelous results. Human faces occasionally appear ever so slightly pasty, but the image is truly defined by its ability to replicate even the tiniest little nitty-gritty details around the frame, particularly evident in the many scuffs and worn surfaces within both McCaleb's and Noone's boats. Clothing textures are consistently accurate, and facial lines appear well-rendered, even considering that trend towards minor pastiness. Colors are vibrant and pleasant, many and appearing with true-to-life accuracy. Blacks can be a bit overpowering; the early overhead shots feature impenetrable globs of darkness outside of the immediate areas surrounding bright light sources. But the transfer is otherwise free of banding, blocky backgrounds, edge halos, and other unwanted no-nos. Warner Brothers has done a marvelous job with this catalogue release.
Blood Work Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Blood Work's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack delivers a satisfying experience, just the sort listeners might reasonably expect of a decade-old Police Procedural. Warner Brothers' track delivers rich, dynamic sound, utilizing every speaker and creating a seamless sonic environment. Whether a helicopter circling around the listening area in an early scene or a barrage of heavy automatic weapons fire near the end of the film that features rounds impacting various metal surfaces all over the soundstage, the track proves nicely immersive even when focused on its most pronounced elements. Lighter ambience also effectively pulls the listening audience into the film. Whether the din of an assembled media outside the film's first crime scene, background announcements over a hospital public address system, or the sounds of gently rolling waters near the docks at McCaleb's and Noone's marina, the track completely encircles the listing audience with clean, tight, natural audio. Music plays smoothly and with a constant, evident richness. The low end enjoys a nice workout when several shotgun blasts pound the soundstage in chapter 21. Dialogue is center-focused, balanced, and never lost underneath surrounding elements. This is a complete sound presentation that should please most listening audiences.
Blood Work Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Blood Work contains a making-of feature, a Spanish-language conversation between three of the stars, and a pair of trailers.
Blood Work Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Blood Work earns a clean bill of health. It's not a model of vitality or the pinnacle of health, but this is a movie that's put in its work and that maintains a healthy lifestyle. There's no filler but not a lot of juicy meat, either. Blood Work never goes for the jugular, instead playing it somewhat safe within the standard confines of the average Police Procedural, and it's as if the premise keeps the movie going more so than what the movie actually does with that premise. Still, this is a well-above-average effort that should have been more and could have been much less. Strong performances and steady direction do help elevate the movie another few notches. Warner Brothers' Blu-ray release of Blood Work features exceptional video, strong audio, and a few supplements. Recommended.
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Blood Work Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blood Work Blu-ray - February 7, 2012
Warner Home Entertainment will bring Blood Work to Blu-ray in June. Director Clint Eastwood's screen adaptation of the Michael Connelly novel, this thriller stars Eastwood (Dirty Harry) as Terry McCaleb, a retired FBI profiler who, after suffering a near-fatal ...
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