Heart Beatings

The Good Girl is bleak fun, Blood Work is just bleak

The show goes on. In his new movie, Blood Work, Eastwood plays veteran FBI profiler Terry McCaleb, surely the only man in the world who can fire off lethal rounds of ammunition while suffering a heart attack massive enough to require a transplant. Call me allergic to men in authority, but words can't describe my gratification on seeing Eastwood bossed around by Anjelica Huston, who plays Terry's cardiologist and prescribes quiet retirement on a decrepit old houseboat. This, of course, is not to be. It turns out that Terry's new heart was previously owned by a beautiful young Latina who was murdered under mysterious circumstances and whose equally gorgeous sister, Graciella (Wanda de Jesùs), shows up to point her impressive breasts at Terry and implore him to crack the case for the sake of her sister's small son. Gentlemanly courtesy, those breasts and a suspicion that the murder closely resembles another, apparently unconnected one that Terry has been following up compel the aging agent to get back on the job. Against the impolitely expressed wishes of the obligatory dumb police detective (Paul Rodriguez) and with the dubious aid of his indolent trust-funder of a neighbor (a wonderful Jeff Daniels), plus a luscious black former police colleague (Tina Lifford) who bats her eyes at Eastwood while blithely risking her job to provide him with background data, Terry returns to work as only a veteran grandstander can—as a freelancer.

One hopes that Michael Connelly's novel, on which Blood Work is based, did a better job of concealing its tracks. Under most circumstances, I am utterly hopeless at guessing whodunit, but even I had the killer figured out within the hour. Almost nothing comes as a surprise in this stately old fogy of a movie. The pacing is glacial, the screenplay (by Brian Helgeland) is stiff as a board, and things heat up only in the movie's final scenes, where, notwithstanding his creaking joints and unhappy ticker, Terry does what a man's gotta do. But not before the lovely Graciella has shown him in the nicest possible way that she's no ageist and that he's still the Man.

The Good Girl was directed by Miguel Arteta and written by Mike White. Now playing at select LA theaters;Blood Work was directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Brian Helgeland. Now playing countywide.

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