Blu-ray
A Rental at Best
2.5 stars
Amazon
$11.29
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Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
1.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
A Rental at Best

Blood Work

Street Date:
June 5th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
June 5th, 2012
Movie Release Year:
2002
Studio:
Warner Brothers
Length:
111 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

I'm a Clint Eastwood fan. I'm usually up for anything he's acting in or directing. 'Blood Work' is the exception to my Clint Eastwood fandom rule. Here's a movie that boasts a stellar cast, one of the greatest actors of any generation – not to mention he's also one of the most accomplished directors – and the entire movie feels as predictable and mundane as an average episode of 'Law & Order.' Couple that with the just-shy-of-two-hours runtime and you've got a thriller trying to jog its way to the finish line through molasses.

While he directs, Eastwood also stars as Terry McCaleb. A tough-as-nails FBI agent who, after chasing down a suspect following a grisly murder, finds himself having heart problems. It's clear that McCaleb was on the track of a serial killer since the killer left him cryptic messages written in blood. You know, like all movie serial killers do. The problem is, McCaleb is forced to retire because of his bum heart. He ends up getting a transplant, but that's after he's quit the force and spends his time lounging on his boat/house tied up at the local marina.

McCaleb is approached by a young lady who would like him to find out who killed her sister. McCaleb, ever the grouch, insists that he's not the man for the job. That is until he learns that the heart currently pumping blood through his chest used to belong to this woman's sister. After she was murdered McCaleb got her heart.

What commences is an extremely standard detective drama which isn't helped much by Eastwood's direction. Usually, he's able to conjure uneasy feelings with direction, lighting, and mood. Here we feel more like we've simply stepped into any and all detective dramas ever filmed. Take his movie 'Absolute Power' as an example. On the outside it appears to be a formulaic, politically charged thriller, right down to its color-by-numbers plot, however, what the story lacks in actual story it makes up for in style. The way Eastwood lets the camera linger in that film is great. The way his tracking shots slowly set the scene is superb. Here we get little to none of that. Just like the conventional story, the direction follows suit.

By the middle of the movie, when he actually starts investigating, it becomes blatantly obvious who the killer will turn out to be. It's telegraphed the entire way. The problem here is that the movie earnestly tries to hide who did it, when in fact it's incredibly easy to decipher. When the revelation comes it's even more cheesy because the movie supposes that we have no idea who the killer might be.

I love Eastwood as much as the next person, maybe even more. I think he's made and starred in some transcendent films. I even enjoy his lesser works, but not this one. 'Blood Work' is as boring and tedious as going and actually getting your blood work done. There's even a slight sting from the proverbial needle once you figure out who the killer is, but you still have an hour of the movie to endure.

I thought that watching 'Blood Work' again would give me new insight into a movie that I saw long ago and wasn't so wild about. That didn't happen. If anything, it made me realize how by the numbers this movie really is. It takes absolutely no chances in story or style. It's as conventional as they come, an Eastwood catalog title that can easily be skipped.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This Warner Bros. release comes in a standard eco-friendly Blu-ray keepcase. The movie is pressed onto a 50GB Blu-ray Disc.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

I was fairly impressed with Warner's 1080p transfer of 'Blood Work.' Even though it was filmed a decade ago, the transfer here makes it look like a newer movie. Clarity is very nice. Facial detail features every crag and age-line on Mr. Eastwood's weathered face. Hair, freckles, and moles are all visible under a thin layer of filmic grain.

It doesn't look like Warner has used much, if any, DNR on this release. The grain seems to be intact and holds strong throughout the movie. Shadows are well delineated. The opening night scene suffers from some crushing, but not much. The rest of the movie is free from any banding, aliasing, although I did notice shimmering on suits and other textures throughout.

Source noise pops up, but it's very minimal and usually disappears – or is rendered unnoticeable – by the movie's natural grain structure. This is a good looking catalog title. It doesn't look like Warner rushed it at all. It looks like time was spent to get the look right with minimal tampering in the process.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The audio, on the other hand, seems like it's just going through the paces. There isn't anything that pops out here as being sensational or amazing. Simply an audio mix doing its job and that's about it.

The rear channels seem underused, even during the opening sequence, which features a helicopter swooping through the night sky. Sound effects, like gun shots, had brashness to them. They didn't feel as polished as most movies. However, dialogue is always clear even when Eastwood is snarling his lines. The original score by Lennie Niehaus, is a fairly generic thriller soundtrack, but it is given ample room to work as it spreads from the front channels, landing lightly in the rear from time to time.

Again, this audio mix isn't going to really annoy you in any way, it'll simply present the movie and be done with it. There are very few bells and whistles really.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Making 'Blood Work' (SD, 18 min.) – Like the movie, this making-of featurette follows the tried and true formula of behind-the-scenes footage, coupled with promo-feeling interviews.

  • A Conversation in Spanish with Clint Eastwood, Wanda de Jesus and Paul Rodriguez (SD, 15 min.) – This featurette, along with the making-of, was carried over from the DVD release. Here de Jesus, Rodriguez and Eastwood discuss the role of Hispanic filmmakers. There's also a lot of back-patting going on here, especially for Eastwood himself. There are optional English subtitles provided.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no Blu-ray exclusives.

Final Thoughts

'Blood Work' is so formulaic, so entrenched in the clichés of detective dramas past, that there's no way it's able to work itself out of the mire. Even with the directorial chops of Eastwood, the movie still sinks deeper and deeper in the muck until the "secret" is revealed. That's basically when you hear the movie take one last gasp of breath, and then… glug, glug, glug. Chances are you've already seen 'Blood Work,' or have caught bits and pieces when its aired in the middle of the day on cable. A rental isn't really necessary here, but a rental is more than enough if you simply must see this again.

Technical Specs

  • 50GB Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.39:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish (Castilian): Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish (Latin): Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French and Spanish

Supplements

  • Making-of Featurette
  • A Conversation in Spanish

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