Plot: What’s it about?
We have to face the very real possibility that actors like Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman (and others) won’t be with us in 10-15 years. Not only are the aforementioned three the stars of one of Eastwood’s most popular movies, Unforgiven, but each is getting on in years. I’m not a psychic, but I might not be here then either (and I’m not even 40). What Eastwood has done with his career is uncompromised. He has created genre after genre and only seems to get better with age. Yes, I’m a Clint Eastwood fan (though I’ve yet to see Bridges of Madison County). As some of his most hailed works have dealt with a renegade cop in Dirty Harry or an aging outlaw in Unforgiven, Eastwood consistently reminds us that he, like us, ages. He’s not one of these guys who try to stay young forever, but rather he grows old gracefully both on and off screen. Never before is this seen as much as in his latest effort, Blood Work; where his character must fight the ravages of time by getting a heart transplant just to stay alive.
This time around Eastwood plays an FBI agent (much unlike his role in In the Line of Fire) Terry McCaleb who is in the midst of tracking down his latest “case”. Terry has been around, knows how the game is played and, as such, knows what it takes to get his man. The trouble is that his heart isn’t what it used to be and he’s forced into an “early” retirement due to the fact that he now needs something to keep his blood flowing through his now much older body. Terry gets his heart transplant, and it seems to take, but he’s now retired to a life of sitting on a dock talking to his somewhat odd neighbor (Jeff Daniels). At the advice of his doctor (Anjelica Huston), Terry starts to investigate the case he left before nature took its course. You see, Terry has been recruited (guilt-tripped if you will) into going back on the case, though now it’s not “official”, to search for the serial killer that he was after. Terry’s blood is very rare, as was his donor’s whose heart he got that very same day. Terry puts the pieces of the puzzle together very easily and feels that it’s the right thing to do to track down this psycho. In the irony department, though, if not for this psycho (or if Terry had caught them before he retired), odds are that he wouldn’t be alive to do this at all. Funny the way life works, eh?
This is nearly the 25th film that Eastwood has directed (and most of them have starred…him) and screenwriter Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale, Payback) have done a great job at converting the novel to the silver screen (now the TV screen). Eastwood isn’t afraid to show us that he’s getting old and his movies are starting to reflect that, dating back to the works of Unforgiven, In the Line of Fire, A Perfect World and, most recently, Space Cowboys. While the film didn’t do that well at the box office, it did manage to garner some critical acclaim (and let’s face it folks, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it)? Though I feel that the talents of Jeff Daniels and, in particular, Anjelica Huston, were somewhat wasted here (especially Daniels as Eastwood’s sidekick) it’s a good film that won’t leave you wanting in the end. Unlike so many other movies of its genre, this doesn’t follow the same standard plot.
Video: How does it look?
I’m still amazed at how far we’ve come in a decade. I can vividly remember doing the review for this movie when it came out on standard DVD and now here we are, ten years later (ok, 9), and it’s on Blu-ray. Most all of Eastwood’s films are filmed in a wide aspect ratio and this is no exception. The 2.40:1 AVC HD image looks, by and large, very good. Texture is rich and detailed, contrast and black levels are especially nice and Warner hasn’t used any Digital Noise Reduction on this title (thank you). Truthfully it doesn’t look like a movie that’s nearly a decade old and that’s the point of HD, right? Right.
Audio: How does it sound?
As good as the video looked, I have to say that I was a bit dis-enchanted with the audio. Yes, it’s a DTS HD Master Audio mix but that’s not always synonymous with something that will blow the roof off the place. The mix seems pacing and routine, but again that’s not to say that it’s bad. Dialogue seems very well-balanced, deliberate and crisp, yet it just seems to lack any depth that would have me rate it a higher score. Still, viewers will be satisfied – just not impressed.
Supplements: What are the extras?
We get the same two supplements that were found on the standard DVD release. The first is “Making Blood Work” shows that the title is more than just a play on words, and while this is all stuff we’ve seen before, it does serve its purpose. The featurette runs about twenty minutes and tells how the script evolved and how Eastwood was initially involved. While it’s repetitive at times, it does work (pardon the pun). Next up is “A Conversation in Spanish with Clint Eastwood, Paul Rodriquez and Wanda DeJesus”. This isn’t a lie here, folks, it really is in Espanol! Subtitles help those who are not fluent in this language, and though it is redundant, it’s a rather unique and informative way to present the information.