"I guess I better get home and take my pills."
That's not a line we associate with movie heroes, but Clint Eastwood, who just gets older and older, isn't your typical movie hero. He's 72 now, and although he's still sexier than I was at, say, 22, he's been showing his age since at least Unforgiven. In fact, you could argue that this whole last stage of his career has been about showing his age ' "keeping on keeping on," to borrow a phrase that was popular back when Dirty Harry roamed the earth. Eastwood heroes have rarely run; today, they barely walk without holding on to a guardrail. And in Blood Work, which Eastwood both directed and stars in, it's worse/better than ever. Chasing after a murder suspect, Eastwood's Terry McCaleb finally keels over with a massive heart attack.
Thus begin the metaphors in this police-procedural thriller. Does McCaleb, a retired FBI profiler, still have the heart for this line of work? Adapted from a novel by former crime reporter Michael Connelly, Blood Work comes up with a somewhat ingenious way of getting McCaleb back on the serial-killer beat. It seems that the donated heart beating inside his chest once belonged to a woman who was murdered while shopping at a convenience store. Her sister, given a sultry strength by Wanda De Jesus, convinces McCaleb that he owes her one. Which sends our manhunter off on a rather mild goose chase. Along the way, we meet Anjelica Huston as a no-nonsense cardiologist and Jeff Daniels as an all-nonsense boat bum.
These are A-movie actors trying to give B-movie performances, and there's some pleasure in watching the attempts. But it's up to Eastwood to carry the movie, a task he approaches with his usual aplomb. The guy still squints in a windowless basement at night, but here it makes sense: McCaleb is in a great deal of pain. We're given a peek at his surgery scar, which just happens to lie between his better-than-mine-were-at-22 pectoral muscles. What can I say, Eastwood's still got it. Which is why, despite Court TV and "CSI" and the O.J. trial, I was willing to sit there patiently and wait for Blood Work to get back from the lab. The movie isn't boring, exactly; it has a pulse, however faint. Just don't expect it to make your blood boil.