There is a saying that you cannot keep a good man down, and this rings true for Clint Eastwood as he stars in and directs Cry Macho from Warner Bros. An adaption of N. Richard Nash’s same-titled 1975 novel, the film tells the story of Mike Milo (Clint Eastwood), a one-time rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder who is now retired due to a severe back injury. The year is 1979, and Mike’s ex-boss, Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakum), offers him a job to bring his young son Rafael “Rafo” Polk (Eduardo Minett) home from Mexico.
Naturally, Mike takes the job, but this does not sit well with Rafo’s mother Leta (Fernanda Loreto Urrejola Arroyo), who tells Mike that Rafo has turned to a life of crime, participating in cockfights with a rooster named Macho in hopes that Mike will leave well enough alone. Being the stubborn old gentleman that he is, Mike plans to see his mission through, which puts him on the radar of Leta’s henchmen. Forced to take the backroads on their way to Texas, the unlikely pair faces an unexpectedly challenging journey, during which the world-weary horseman finds unexpected connections and his sense of redemption.
Cry Macho’s author spent decades trying to get the film made. In 1988, Eastwood turned down the chance to star but wanted to direct the movie with Robert Mitchum in the lead. That deal fell through, and since then, names such as Burt Lancaster, Pierce Bronson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were all in talks for the lead role. Eventually, the film made its way back to Eastwood, and here we are. Eastwood directs the film using Nash’s original screenplay with additional contributions by his frequent collaborator Nick Schenk, who previously worked with Eastwood on Gran Torino and The Mule.
One would think that with Eastwood’s style of filmmaking, Cry Macho’s result would come across better. On the positive side, Eastwood comes across naturally as the older man interacting with his young charge. There was never a moment in the film where Eastwood stereotypes Rafo or looks down on him. Eastwood’s character of Mike generally does what he needs to, to get Rafo reunited with his father, and I did enjoy that aspect of the film. I was also fond of the organic chemistry between Clint and Eduardo Minett. In addition, the film is lovely to look at with gorgeous views of Texas and Mexico.
However, the problem with the film is you know exactly where it is going to go. Furthermore, the pacing is off-putting, and I even dozed off a few times. More than anything, Cry Macho comes off as a last hurrah for Eastwood instead of a joyous experience. I would have loved to see Clint direct his son Scott in a Dirty Harry or Heartbreak Ridge prequel instead of a film like this. However, I do commend Eastwood for still acting and directing at the age of 91. That said, I am sure there is an audience for Cry Macho, but for me, the film is a miss.
Final Grade: C-
Cry Macho opens in theaters today and will steam on HBO MAX until October 17th
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