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A Thoughtful Clint Film
on 16 May 2003
Clint embraced the process of growing older and more fragile in this leisurely paced and thoughtful cop film. Clint has grown older and wiser, both as an actor, a producer, and a director. Even though I guessed fairly early on who the killer was and the film ran a little long, this film is about the journey. Paced much like "Line of Fire" it also is about the character as much as the crimes, and that, coupled with the charisma of Eastwood, gives this film five stars.
Clint Eastwood is legendary F.B.I. profiler Terry McCaleb. He is tracking a serial killer when this film opens known as 'Code Killer', as he has been enjoying the chase, leaving Terry messages written in blood at each crime scene. But Terry finds him and will surely catch him in a foot chase, only he suffers a heart attack so massive during the pursuit that only a heart transplant saves his life, forcing his retirement from the Bureau. The killings stop when Terry retires.
Terry is taking the advice of his cardiologist Bonnie (Angelica Huston) and taking it easy on his boat. Jeff Daniels is great as his next door pal Buddy. Things are going smoothly in the immediate days after the transplant when the darkly beautiful Graciella shows up and wants the former F.B.I. Agent to go look into the murder of her sister, killed at random during a robbery. Terry knows he is not up to the task even though he feels sorry for her and her sister's son, who has lost his mother. But his attraction to Graciella and his own guilt and sense of honor force him to risk everything when he learns the heart beating in his chest belonged to the murdered woman.
Buddy becomes his sidekick as he slowly begins to get up to speed. Terry knows he is not the same man anymore, but somehow he can get part of himself back if he can find her killer and survive the chase. Paul Rodriguez gives a very funny performance as the exasperated L.A. Detective Arrango who thinks Terry should stay retired and stay out of his case.
But Terry still has connections, including the pretty Tina Lifford in a nice role. It is obvious she and Terry had more than a casual relationship in the past and she gives him more leeway than she probably should in his pursuit of justice for his heart donor's killer. Terry begins to have feelings for Graciella and though some have found Clint's performance in the brief love scene rather stoic, his reaction, or rather lack of it, at Graciella's advances in the scene are in keeping with his condition and the fear Terry probably has due to his recent transplant and the health complications brought on by his investigation. It is realistic.
As his old nemisis returns and Terry discovers the reason for all the killings it complicates matters no end, both investigation wise, and in his personal life, which have become intertwined. Eastwood gives a thoughtful performance as an actor and adds some humor and good music as director to round out this entertaining film. His final exchange with Rodriguez and the final shot on the water are worth the protracted confrontation scene. Like Steve McQueen, Eastwood can elevate a good movie to seem a little better than it is, which is exactly what he does here.
This is definitely one you'll want to go see at the theatre and pick up once it comes out on DVD. Clint never lets you down..