Friday, 17 September 2021

Cry Macho (Movie Review)

Very few filmmakers working today are as resilient as Clint Eastwood. At 91 years old, the acclaimed actor and director continues to put forth excellent work in his movies, where others would've already opted for retirement. His latest project is one that has seen its own share of ups and downs, having been attached to several actors and directors since the screenplay was first written in the 1970s. But following a development period that seems worthy of its own movie, the film finally hit theaters and HBO Max simultaneously this weekend.

In Cry Macho, Clint Eastwood plays Mike Milo, a washed-up ranch hand whose glory days as a rodeo cowboy had ended with a severe back injury. Now he lives a life of solitude following the string of tragedies that have come to define who he is as a person. But when he is called upon by his former employer (Dwight Yoakam) to repay a debt that would involve him crossing the Mexican border to retrieve the man's estranged son, he finds himself forced to accept. What he doesn't count on though is just how challenging this particular job would prove to be.

Cry Macho once again finds Clint Eastwood stepping into the shoes of an aging cowboy. But unlike the brilliant Unforgiven, this is a film that is less concerned about shoot outs. It is effectively a road movie that centers upon the growing relationship between an old man and a young boy, and the film shines brightest when we get to see the chemistry between the two evolve. Clint Eastwood is just as charismatic as he has ever been, delivering a performance that was very much nuanced.

The same thing can't be said for the rest of the cast though, with performances ranging from good to just barely serviceable. Thankfully, most of the runtime is spent with our two leads, or three if you count Macho, the titular rooster. In terms of tone, the film is not afraid to throw in a few jokes, despite its otherwise serious premise. I wouldn't go as far as calling it a comedy, but things are kept lighthearted for the most part, no doubt to ensure that its feel-good message about redemption comes through strong.

My main criticism then is its somewhat slow pacing and relatively low stakes. The film has long stretches where barely anything seems to happen, lacking much of the excitement you would expect from a movie about a man operation outsides the lines of the law. But not every one of these films need to be plot-driven, or conform to the same rigid formula we've seen time and time again. This isn't Rambo: Last Blood after all, and neither does it need to be.

Cry Macho is a clear example of a passion project, and it is that passion that carries the film for most of its runtime. The story itself is simple, with very little in the way of twists or surprises, while its overall pacing does suffer from a lack of momentum. It helps of course that the whole thing is beautifully shot, and that Clint Eastwood's commandeering presence can be felt both in front and behind the camera. His execution might not be to everyone's taste, but what the film lacks in tension it definitely makes up for in heart.

2 comments:

  1. It's on my radar to see. Amazing he is still going strong. Losing Eastwood will be one of the greatest losses in the movie industry.

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