By Jim Tortolano
If you liked Clint Eastwood in any of his iconic movie roles such as “Fistful of Dollars” or his later work such as “Unforgiven,” you may not like his latest film, “Cry Macho.”
In fact, even if you’ve never heard of Eastwood, you may find this movie dull, repetitive and more of an ego project than a viable story.
Clint is 91, and long past the days when he could credibly be an action hero or romantic lead. To see old Clint, hobbling along and muttering in a scene in which a woman perhaps half his age starts coming on to him is just painful to watch.
This is the story of an over-the-hill horse whisperer (and former bronc buster) named Mike Milo, who is tasked by his former employer Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam) with going into Mexico to retrieve his estranged son.
Clint growls in his gravely voice and squints his way across the border, where he charms two much younger women and dispenses wisdom to the missing son Rafo (Eduardo Minett). There is not much violence in this film; the only thing that takes a beating is the depiction of a nation that’s ¼ corrupt excess and ¾ endless bleak impoverished desert.
As you might expect, the young lad eventually takes to his new overseer and there’s a bucolic interlude in which they work together in a small Mexican village training horses and flirting with females. Especially smitten with Mike/Clint is Marta (Natalia Traven), who finds a dusty old gringo with no Spanish skills just irresistible.
It’s not so much that “Cry Macho” is an awful film; it deserves at worst a C-. The problem is that – like Eastwood’s early career on TV and in “spaghetti westerns” – he seems to be playing the same part over and over: leathery, laconic old man takes young boy under his wing and teaches him some gritty wisdom.
There are strong echoes of “Gran Torino” – a good film – and “The Mule” – a mediocre one – in “Cry Macho,” in which the only really original character is the cockfighting rooster named Macho.
Here’s my theory on why this forgettable film was made. Based on a 1975 novel, this is a story no studio really wanted until a known quantity such as Eastwood was attached to it. Clint starred in and directed this underwhelming effort, as devoid of interest and originality as the vast desert that our characters find themselves in.
“Cry Macho” is rated PG-13 for some violence and language; brief sexuality.
Categories: Arts & Leisure