In a career nearing 70 years, Clint Eastwood has given us some of the most beloved and iconic films – and characters – of all time. From Dirty Harry to The Man with No Name, the man is certainly a titan of cinema. When 2008’s Gran Torino was billed as his swansong, it seemed like a fitting farewell to the icon. And yet, 13 years later, he is still working – regrettably, with increasingly diminishing quality. His latest, Cry Macho, could unfortunately be one of his worst films to date.
It’s 1979 and Eastwood is Mike Milo, an ageing rodeo star whose severe back injury has left him a shadow of his former self. We’re told – although it’s seemingly completely forgotten from this scene onwards – that he has become a drug-addled alcoholic, and his glory days are a distant memory. When his former boss (country musician and absolutely-not-actor Dwight Yoakam) hires him to travel to Mexico to bring back his rebellious son Rafo (Eduardo Minett), he reluctantly accepts and embarks on a journey of self-rediscovery and redemption, complete with the usual love interest half his age and casual racism.
Despite a largely charming – albeit totally autopiloted – performance from Eastwood, Cry Macho is a bit of a mess from start to finish. There’s an indescribable yet distracting amateurish feel to the film which is surprising considering Eastwood’s pedigree, and it plagues every scene. Strange editing choices and dire pacing keep the film at beyond an arm’s length, leaving the viewer unable to connect with the story or characters, while some pretty hammy supporting performances certainly don’t help. The story – and this may very well be a problem with the 1975 source novel – is all over the place, too, and riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies in character motivation and behaviour. It’s just an uncomfortable viewing experience.
Clint Eastwood certainly doesn’t owe us anything, and if he’s making these films just for his own benefit then maybe we should just leave him to it. Even in a film like this, there’s no denying that it’s always pleasing to see a legend like Eastwood on screen – truly one of the last greats remaining from a bygone era of cinema. But at the same time, one can’t help feeling disappointed that his output has come to this level of quality.
Cry Macho has had a cursed production ever since it began floating around Hollywood in the 1970s, with multiple rejected adaptations and failed attempts with stars including Roy Scheider, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pierce Brosnan (to name but a few). This curse seems to have extended into the 2020s, with this rather abysmal blip in Eastwood’s career. If this is his final film, what a sad way for him to leave us. Hopefully he’s got one more masterpiece in him.
Cry Macho is a messy and distractingly amateurish dud.