Blood Work

Blood Work (2002)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels
Extras: Featurette, Interviews, Trailer

Clint Eastwood’s latest film is here on DVD, finally. Carrying the title "Blood Work, " Eastwood once again takes on double-duty in this film, directing the picture and starring in it as the protagonist. And once again, Eastwood creates a film that oozes his charisma from every frame and makes superb use of his maturity as a filmmaker, an actor and as a person. Warner Home Video is now sending this film into the race with a few selected bonus materials and I eagerly picked up this disc to see how everything turned out.

Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) is an aging FBI profiler. For years he has been tracking criminal wanna-be masterminds, figuring out what makes them tick and how to find them. He is the best on the job, but time doesn’t’ stand still for him. One day, while pursuing one of his most notorious opponents, Terry suffers from a heart attack and is off the job. For months he is waiting for a heart transplant until he finally receives a donor heart that saves his life.

A few short weeks later Graciella Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) visits McCaleb on the boat he lives on. She tells him about her sister who was murdered in a brutal convenience store robbery. McCaleb keeps telling Graciella that he is in no condition to take on any work, but she keeps insisting. The reason is simple, as it turns out. The new heart that is beating inside McCaleb is that of her own sister, and Graciella wants the killer to be found and brought to justice.

So, reluctantly at first, McCaleb makes some investigations into the case and acquires the help of his next-boat neighbor buddy Noone (Jeff Daniels) to drive him around town. Together they try to get to the heart of the case but somehow it remains elusive, until one day McCaleb makes a break-through discovery that reveals the true story.

"Blood Work" is an exceptionally plotted film that keeps viewers guessing every second of its running time. Not since "Unforgiven" has Eastwood been able to create an atmosphere that is so dense, observing and intriguing, and as a result "Blood Works" is pure movie magic. Its plot, the acting and the careful direction of the film make it one of the best thrillers of recent memory, always with a touch of good old "Dirty Harry" class and the minimalist style that makes these films so credible and convincing.

"Blood Work" comes to DVD in a great-looking <$16x9,anamorphic> transfer on this DVD that restores the movie’s 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio. A <$PS,fullscreen> version is sold separately but it is not covered in this review. The picture is clean and clear, entirely free of blemishes and grain. The transfer shows very good detail and even the most subtle nuances are perfectly reproduced. Colors are very natural-looking, just as the film had been designed, with faithful fleshtones and well-saturated hues. Black levels are also meticulously reproduced, creating solid blacks and shadows that are deep but never break up. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression of the material has been handled well to make sure no distracting compression artifacts were introduced in the transfer.

The audio on the disc comes as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> track that is engaging and makes very good use of the surround channels. The mix strikes a perfect balance between the subtle moments of the movie where the soundstage is filled with nothing more but ambient noises, and the more suspenseful scenes were suddenly the sound stage comes to life and explodes with aggressive surround effects. Alternatively a <$5.1,5.1 channel> Dolby Digital track in French is also included on the release, as well as optional subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

Two main features have been added to the release. First off is a featurette called "Making Blood Work." It is your typical promo featurette with talking head interviews and clips form the movie, interspersed with your occasional behind-the-scenes footage. It doesn’t reveal too much about the actual production other than what you need to know to get interested in viewing the picture.

The second feature is an interview segment with various cast members. Interestingly these interviews are in Spanish. After viewing the film this may not be as surprising as it may first appear, since the movie touches upon a few Hispanic sensibilities and certainly has a large audience in Spanish-speaking territories. The DVD is rounded out by the movie’s theatrical trailer and teaser.

"Blood Work" is an impressive movie, once again. It is really interesting to see how Clint Eastwood’s films have changed over the years to reflect him as a person, and with every new film he impresses with material and storylines that are not only contemporary but also perfectly suited for his abilities and image. What’s more important however, is the fact that "Blood Work" will have on the edge of your seat for its entire 110 minutes. You will keep guessing what is going on and where the plot will take you next, when a wicked twist will turn the tables and present viewers with a situation that has dramatically changed. In short, "Blood Work" is a film you have to see!