Clint Eastwood looks as old as time. If the familiar craggy features really were formed of granite, they would be perilously close to a major landslide round about now. Clint knows this - has any other icon so publicly explored his growing frailty on screen? In Unforgiven, he was an outlaw who'd lost his touch; in True Crime a past-it hack. Blood Work sees him play FBI profiler Terry McCaleb, forced to retire after his ticker gives out during a chase. Two years later, he's got a new heart and a new life, but then the shapely Graciella (Wanda De Jesus) comes calling, begging him to investigate the murder of her sister - the donor who provided his new pump...
Naturally, McCaleb takes this one last job. It's a mistake. As is the movie. Has Eastwood directed a worse film? Well, there are a few contenders. Firefox is pretty dire, The Rookie is shocking. But they both felt like nods to the studio, perfunctory efforts knocked out as fast as possible so he could get back to what he cared about - Honkytonk Man, Bird, Pale Rider. Here, the real fear is that Eastwood is actually trying. The material is, excuse us, close to his heart - it's about ageing, it's about death, it's about losing your touch. And it is, come the end, bordering on the unwatchable.
Imagine The Dead Pool without any sense of (intentional) humour, with Clint wandering round like an OAP Dirty Harry - he'll kick your arse, but can he please have his afternoon nap first? Even that's amiable enough for half an hour, until Brian Helgeland's script begins to slide alarmingly off track. It must have taken him all of five minutes to adapt Michael Connelly's novel, judging by the lazy, exposition-heavy dialogue, and action laden with laugh-out-loud moments of idiocy and join-the-dots plotting.
Eastwood's camerawork is little better, but it's no fun putting the boot into Clint. It's just sad that a true cinematic great has made such a tired, disappointing movie.
If it wasn't for Eastwood's magnetism, his iconic status and (waning) star power, it's hard to imagine this 'thriller' getting released. Fans should expect a painful experience.