You’ve got to ask yourself one question… “Do I feel lucky?” Well, if you find yourself watching Clint Eastwood’s newest film Cry Macho you may be feeling pretty unlucky. Eastwood is a masterful storyteller and an iconic figure. There is no taking that away from him. And his presence alone adds a level of legitimacy to the film; unfortunately, it’s not enough to elevate the story above the bland narrative and devastatingly’ slow pace.
The film, adapted from N. Richard Nash’s novel of the same name, follows an aged rodeo star named Mike (Eastwood), tasked with traveling from Texas to Mexico to find and bring home the son of a local ranch and rodeo owner named Howard (Dwight Yoakam). Mike finds the boy living on the streets of Mexico and the two begin the journey back to Texas. Along the way they encounter friendly locals while trying to evade the police and henchman sent by the boy’s mother to recover him.
It’s an admirable attempt by the 91 year old Eastwood. While other aging action stars of years past desperately try to hold on to the machismo and muscle of their glory days, Eastwood has chosen to lean into the reality of growing old and the self reflection that comes with it. This is the major theme of the story. Mike is a man who has lost everything. His wife. His child. His career. The bond he forms with Rafael (Eduardo Minett), the boy he’s tasked with bringing to Texas, forces him to reflect on his past choices, accept his losses and ponder what it truly means to be “macho.” The bones and pieces of a superior film are there, but they fail to connect in a way that’s new or meaningful.
The film would have benefited from Eastwood choosing to remain behind the camera and off screen. That’s not an insult to his talent as an actor, and there’s no denying that he looks amazing for his age. However, the role of Mike is not one suited for an actor in their 90s. The idea of asking a 91 year old man to accomplish the task at hand is one that makes little sense. Eastwood carries the same charisma and intensity that he always has, but he’s simply unable to perform the more physically demanding aspects of the role and it shows to the film’s detriment. Camera tricks and angles are used to try and hide the fact that Eastwood is unable to ride a bucking bronco or go toe to toe with a younger man in a fist fight. And the romantic relationship that forms between Mike and the visibly younger (much younger) Marta, played by Natalia Traven, feels disingenuous.
Cry Macho is a film that strives to bring closure to one of the longest and brightest careers in Hollywood. It dissects and examines the roles that made Eastwood famous. Dirty Harry and The Man With No Name embodied and built up the tough guy persona that Eastwood attempts to break down with Cry Macho. Instead of accomplishing what it sets out to do, the film slowly bumbles through a straight forward and unimpressive story. It’s one of Eastwood’s weakest attempts as director and sits as a low point amid an otherwise impressive filmography. 4/10