“This whole macho thing is overrated,” says Clint Eastwood in his newest film, “Cry Macho.” These words are especially ironic coming from an actor with roles under his belt buckle such as the Man with No Name, Dirty Harry, Bill Munny, and Josey Wales. “Cry Macho” is the latest, and perhaps the last film from Clint Eastwood, and is an appropriate send-off if this is the end of a legendary career.
Even at 91, Eastwood is continuing to make films at an incredibly high rate. The Man with No Name has directed four films in the last four years alone ranging from “The 15:17 to Paris” and “The Mule” — the latter of which he also starred in — and Academy Award nominee “Richard Jewell.” “Cry Macho” has been in the works for years, but there has never been a more appropriate time to make the film. This marks Eastwood’s first return to the Western genre since “Unforgiven” (1992). How ironic that Eastwood, Dirty Harry himself, makes a return to the genre that created his legend with a film that tackles toxic masculinity.
This neo-Western starts off running; with former rodeo star Mike Milo (Clint Eastwood), as he is fired from his job by his boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam). One year later, Howard comes back to Mike asking him to transport his son Rafael “Rafo” Polk (Eduardo Minett) back from Mexico. From there, we have another classic Clint Eastwood adventure whose plot sounds like a mixture of “Gran Torino” (2008) and “The Marksman” from earlier this year.
It should come to the surprise of none that the biggest strength of “Cry Macho” is Clint Eastwood. In both direction and acting, Eastwood continues to be a steady hand. Sure, he is old, and he certainly doesn’t look like a spring chicken while chasing one, but he can still quip as if he is in an MCU movie. On top of that, hearing Eastwood growl “Get out!” to Rafael will bring viewers back to when he told a gang to get off of his lawn in “Gran Torino.” Maybe this sentiment won’t apply to those who are not Clint Eastwood fanboys, but seeing him trot around in a cowboy hat, boots, and a huge belt buckle sends chills down your spine. His biggest chance to shine comes in the last ten minutes or so when he gets a chance to deliver a little monologue to Minett’s character.
“Cry Macho” does tread some familiar waters thematically, and comparisons to “Gran Torino” are inevitable. Perhaps there is less prejudice that Eastwood’s character has to conquer this time around, but it’s a fair comparison since “Cry Macho” does explore an intercultural relationship.
The limitations of the film come when there are scenes of action. For example, you can clearly tell that there is a body double used when Eastwood’s character is supposed to be riding a horse. Other action scenes are over within seconds, and the most Eastwood does is throw a single punch. Of course, these limitations are to be expected with an actor as old as Eastwood now is, and it is fortunate that he is self-aware of his physical limitations unlike Robert De Niro in “The Irishman.”
While “Cry Macho” lacks big thrills and twists, that does not take away from the power of this exploration of Eastwood and Minett’s characters. In fact, the ending is heartwarming like many of Eastwood’s films, and his character gets his own Steve Rodgers in “Avengers: Endgame” ending. Eastwood may the picture that comes up with the definition of masculinity, but he still has a way of provoking emotion in his films. “Cry Macho” won’t be remembered as the next great Western like “Unforgiven” or “A Fistful of Dollars,” but it’s like a love letter of sorts to the genre and feels like an appropriate send-off. If this ends up being the end of the line for Eastwood’s directorial and acting career, at least he will go out on a high note. Let’s not take Clint Eastwood for granted, and simply celebrate the great films in a career that has spanned six decades. If you ask me, I think that us “punks,” or Clint Eastwood fans, should consider ourselves lucky to have had an actor constantly putting out quality content for so many years. That leaves me with one question: Well, do you?
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