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Blood Work

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This week saw the DVD release of “Blood Work”, the movie starring and directed by Clint Eastwood. Extremely loosely based on Michael Connelly’s novel of the same name, Eastwood plays Terry McCaleb as Harry “Dirty Harry” Callahan, a 70 year old man, who thankfully never says “I’m getting too old for this shit”, instead he leaves it up to the audience to say so.

I was eager when I heard from the Michael Connelly mailing list that “Blood Work” was being made into a movie, but my eagerness was blunted when they announced Clint would star.

In the book, McCaleb is an FBI profiler in his mid-forties who has retired after a heart condition and subsequent transplant. The novel is an intricately logical mystery thriller.

In the movie, almost all of the characters have been jettisoned, and only a couple of plot points retained. All it really shares with the novel is the title, McCaleb’s name, and that’s about it. The movie is wheezy, saggy and dumb. If you are halfway observant, you know within the first 20 minutes who the killer is, and don’t really care why.

Michael Connelly is one of the best contemporary American crime writers to set his novels in Los Angeles. His books are dark with richly drawn characters, but far more humane than James Ellroy. Connelly is best known for Detective Harry Bosch, who has appeared in the majority of his books. “Blood Work” is the debut of McCaleb, who teams up with Bosch in “A Darkness More Than Night“.

If one of his books was to be made into a movie, I think it should be “Void Moon“, which is a stand alone crime caper thriller set in Las Vegas. But after seeing how gutted “Blood Work”, is maybe we are better off. After reading “Monster” by John Gregory Dunne, about the progress in writing a script which took 8 years to produce a movie which bore no resemblance to the original proposal, I’m not too surprized at what a mess “Blood Work” is.

One other thing about the DVD, Warners has taken to releasing two versions of its DVD’s, the original widescreen version, and the slice and dice teevee formated “full screen” version. Now, could someone explain to me how cutting away a third of the image constitutes a full screen? Since most video stores (yes, Blockbuster, I’m looking a you, sit up straight and get that hamster out of your ass) only carry the “full screen” version, you get ripped off.

In the case of “Blood Work” since the extras are almost non-existant, and the movie is hardly epic and the camera work is lackluster, they could have easily put both versions on one disc. However, the solution is don’t bother renting “Blood Work”.

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About Jim Carruthers