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Film / Blood Work

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Blood Work is a 2002 crime drama directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, based on the 1998 novel Blood Work 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: 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 numbers 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. After a heart transplant, he needs over 30 pills a day, but he can still fight when needed.
  • Logo Joke: The film opens with the 1984-98 WB Shield, possibly to harken back to 80s cop movies.
  • 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).
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: James Noon presents himself as an affable, doltish loser so that nobody would suspect that he's a calculating and quite clever serial killer.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. 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.
  • 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.