Eastwood: Blood Work

To say I like murder mystery thrillers would be an understatement. There’s just something about the relationship between a serial killer and a detective in films that never gets old. So when I watched Blood Work for the first time I was all kinds of excited. Then I eventually finished Blood Work and I was all kinds of disappointed.

Let’s start with what made me think it’d be a good film. First of all, it’s a Clint Eastwood film. Better still it is Clint Eastwood playing a retired FBI agent. Somehow the idea of Eastwood being retired, even playing retired, is as promising as it can get. So naturally I was excited to see what kind of borderline illegal antics his character would get up to.

Next is that it’s based on a Michael Connelly novel. Having seen the Lincoln Lawyer I had high hopes that this would be just as good a film. I’ll admit I cheated and read The Lincoln Lawyer article on Wikipedia to see how it compared to the book and there were no real differences. It seemed like a faithful adaptation if ever there was one.

I mean, it’s got to be at least a half decent film for those reasons alone, right?

Just to make sure I did this right, I watched this with a friend of mine, someone who is also a film fan and someone who has sat through some utter rubbish with me. Just to get another point of view.

They fell asleep, as did I.

Then I watched it again, with Red Bull, and only just managed to stay awake.

This film is so difficult to be passionate about or even positive about. It’s a disappointing film that doesn’t ever seem to hit the mark or even get close to the mark. The pace is lethargic and slow and contrasts with the expected style of this genre of film. The opening is misleading with all the bells and whistles of a crime scene you’d expect for this kind of film. It’s an interesting opening that is about as typical as it gets. The relationship between the killer and the detective I was so excited about was boring and nearly non-existent. In fact, this film seemed a mess throughout with no cohesion at all.

The story has promise, Eastwood playing a famous FBI Agent, Terry McCaleb, who is chasing someone known as the “Code Killer” when he has a heart attack and is forced to retire. This part of the story just made me think this will be an awesome game of cat and mouse between a psychotic killer and an ill, yet brilliant, detective.

However, the story falters when he’s then approached two years later by a woman, Graciella, who’s sister died and had her heart given to McCaleb via transplant. This just made me think of that dodgy film starring Minnie Driver and David Duchovny called Return to Me.

The story continues its downwards trajectory when the sister is revealed to have been murdered and Graciella would like McCaleb to investigate because he got her sisters heart.

Thus begins the least entertaining set of borderline illegal antics in a film ever. Well, except for when McCaleb randomly decides to shoot up a car because… Actually I’m not entirely sure why he did it. Or what relevance it had to the plot at all. The buddy story is sweet and funny with Jeff Daniel’s character, Jasper “Buddy” Noone, playing McCaleb’s partner of sorts but even this feels stale and off.

The big twists are predictable and clumsily done, especially the reveal that the “Code Killer” is behind the sisters death. It was painstakingly obvious that he was behind it but the supposed shocking reveal was boring and not all that shocking.

The biggest annoyance for me though was the inanity of the “Code Killer”. He’s built to be this hugely successful psychotic who massacres victims and taunts his worthy nemesis, McCaleb. Yet somehow the super sophisticated “Code Killer” has his identity revealed, in part, by a child who pointed out there is “no 1” in the code.

Now if I’ve been smart enough and written it as I wanted to write it there should be a light going on as you realize who the killer is. I’ve probably not done it too well so here’s the clincher, the killer is Jasper “Buddy” Noone… Get it? Noone = No One = No 1…

I could have been surprised by this. Had the pace been quicker and more involving, this could have been a massive bombshell. Instead it’s a half-hearted revelation that makes me think this awesome FBI agent was getting praise for nothing at all. I mean, come on, the kid actually solved the biggest clue and it was placed so clumsily that it felt like more of an afterthought than a genuine clue.

This brings me to the clincher of all annoyances in this film; that it is an adaptation that ignores the original story. Once again, I will admit I went on Wikipedia to find out about the novel, but that little cheat told me enough about the original story to ask the question: “what were you thinking?” I’m fine with adaptations deviating from the original plot if it helps the film or improves it. I honestly think that, had they kept the original plot intact, this film would’ve been greatly improved. The pace might have been less lethargic and dull and the plot might have added up to something at least half decent.

Overall, I was disappointed. Starting with such high expectations of a decent story, great acting and something I can sink my teeth into, I was left with only disappointment and a great night’s sleep.

Michael Wharto

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