Film / Blood Work

Blood Work is a 2002 crime drama directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, based on the 1998 novel by Michael Connelly.

Eastwood plays Terry McCaleb, an FBI criminal profiler. While investigating a serial killer's crime scene, McCaleb spots a figure with blood on his shoes and gives chase, only to suffer a heart attack. A two-year Time Skip reveals that McCaleb has had a heart transplant and is retired from the FBI, living on his boat. He is approached by a nurse, Graciela Torres, who asks him to investigate the unsolved murder of her sister. She tells McCaleb that her sister was the donor of McCaleb's heart. McCaleb takes the case, and finds even darker connections between himself and the crime.

Tropes found in the film and/or the novel:

  • AB Negative: Drives the plot. McCaleb has a rare blood type (AB with CMV negative), which made a heart transplant even more difficult than usual. It turns out that the killer, who wished to continue the cat-and-mouse game with McCaleb, sought out and killed a person or three with the same blood type so a donor heart would be available.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Buddy Lockridge and James Noone swap surnames in the film, where Buddy says his real name is "Jasper" and "Buddy" is just a nickname.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the novel, a witness named James Noone turns out to be the Code Killer. In the movie, where his surname is changed to Lockridge, he's really an innocent witness.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The film takes Buddy, McCaleb's neighbor at the marina (played by Jeff Daniels), and makes him the Code Killer. In the novel they were different characters.
  • Adapted Out: Murder victim Donald Kenyon isn't portrayed in the film.
  • Asian Store-Owner: In the novel, the store owner where Gloria Torres is killed is named Chan Ho Kang. He gets killed too; Terry later commiserates with his widow.
  • Composite Character: Buddy Lockridge (here renamed Noone) and the Code Killer are the same person in the film but not in the book.
  • Decomposite Character: James Noone is the Code Killer in the book while the movie makes them separate characters and changes James' surname from Noone to Lockridge.
  • Death by Adaptation: Buddy, McCaleb's neighbor (see Adaptational Villainy above).
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: In the novel, Terry tries ingratiating himself with the cops investigating the Torres murder by bringing doughnuts to the police station,.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Blood Work refers both to Terry McCaleb's medical issues and his old job hunting serial killers for the FBI.
  • Dub Name Change: The surname Noone is changed to "Sem Um" in the Brazilian dub.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The novel contains a random reference to lawyer Michael Haller Jr. This is Mickey Haller, who first appeared seven years later in The Lincoln Lawyer and has been the protagonist in five Connelly novels.
  • Enhance Button: Used to examine the footage from an ATM security camera.
  • Eureka Moment:
    • In the book, Terry realizes James Noone was pretending to be under hypnosis when he realizes that otherwise Noone would have responded to Jaye's words instead of only his.
    • In the film, Terry realizes Buddy Noone is the Code Killer when he looks at a writing of Buddy's name and remembers what Gloria Torres' son said about the killer's code having almost all number but "no one".
  • Failed a Spot Check: Justified somewhat in that after finding an intruder aboard his boat and chasing him off, Terry spent a good deal of time checking to see if anything had been taken, he nevertheless fails to notice that something had been hidden in what turns out to be one of the most obvious hiding spots imaginable: taped to the underside of a drawer.
  • Handicapped Badass: Terry McCaleb is a former FBI agent who was forced into retirement after a heart failure. Even after a heart transplant, he needs over 30 pills a day but still can fight when needed.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: At the end of the novel, Noone breaks into McCaleb's room and steals his gun, which he later uses to threaten McCaleb with. What Noone doesn't know is that it was McCaleb's habit to carry his weapon without a round chambered. McCaleb, however, has Noone's gun, which Noone had planted on McCaleb's boat as part of the frame, and Noone's gun DOES have a bullet in the chamber.
  • May–December Romance: When this movie was made Eastwood was 72 and Wanda DeJesus, who played Graciela, was 45. Reviewers singled out the romance plot thread as one of the weaker points in the film (in the novel, McCaleb is 46).
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: In the novel, McCaleb, being held at gunpoint by Noone with his own weapon, employs a variant of this by pointing out that his gun isn't loaded. McCaleb's habit was to carry the weapon without a round in the chamber, and Noone never checked it.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: At the end of the book, McCaleb plays dumb about the killer's fate, pretending to be hearing about it for the first time from Winston. Whether Winston buys it or not is left open to interpretation.
  • One Steve Limit: The murder of James Cordell is witnessed by another man named James. (James Noone in the book and James Lockridge in the film)
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: A variant of this trope. The Code Killer doesn't want McCaleb's heart failure to take him out of the game, so he gets McCaleb a heart.
  • Pink Mist: The novel describes "a horrifying mist of blood" spurting out of both the entry and exit wounds in Gloria's head.
  • Punny Name: The code left behind by the Code Killer is a clue to his surname. The code has almost all numerals from 0 to 9 but "no one". The Code Killer is James Noone in the book and Buddy Noone in the film.
  • Serial Killer: The Code Killer, whom McCaleb was chasing but never caught, turns out to be the man who murdered Graciela's sister.
  • Shared Universe: The novel joins Connelly's established one by mentioning The Poet, Serial Killer bad guy of Connelly's novel The Poet, and also containing other references to the Harry Bosch universe, such as L.A. Times reporter Keisha Russell, introduced in The Last Coyote, Joel Bremmer, the killer in The Concrete Blonde, and FBI agent Rachel Walling, introduced in The Poet. Mentioned in passing is Michael Haller, Jr., who we will come to know later as Mickey Haller, The Lincoln Lawyer.
  • Shown Their Work: In the book, McCaleb's explanation of the DRUGFIRE computer and its origins.
  • Time Skip: See above.
  • Title Drop
  • A True Story In My Universe: The film Blood Work is also a film in later Bosch/Haller novels, though there it's Based on a True Story.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Code Killer towards McCaleb (McCaleb does not reciprocate).