Review: Clint Eastwood's Cry Macho runs fowl
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
The last remnant of golden age Hollywood, nobody in the business is making and starring in movies like Clint Eastwood. There’s something endearing about the prolific 91-year-old icon figuring out ways to throw a punch and shoot modestly budgeted movies, but his latest, rumored to be swan song, “Cry Macho,” comes up short. Crusty and stale in its execution, “Cry Macho” is riddled with conveniently resolved conflicts, wooden performances, and feel-good emotions which never earn their keep. One can respect Eastwood’s perseverance and ability to churn out adult targeted fare that earn solid returns (“The Mule” and “Gran Torino”), but sometimes projects don’t manifest the way they should.
Feeling like two muddled movies pieced together: one see’s aging rodeo star Mike (Eastwood) enlisted by his wealthy boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam), for one last hurrah before hanging up the saddle. He wants Mike to cross the border from Texas into Mexico and retrieve his 13-year son, Rafo (Eduardo Minett), whom he claims is being abused by his mother, Leta (Fernada Urrejola). Mike finds out Rafo has been living on the streets, hustling to make a quick buck with his fighting rooster, Macho. After meeting Leta and her beefy security detail, who can blame him? Eastwood calmy sets the stage for a cross-country trek where the elder and young whippersnapper maneuver through several Mexican towns and encounter everyone from car thieves, crooked federales, to a cantina run by Marta (Natalia Traven) who takes a liking to Mike’s soft spoken demeanor.
That’s where the undercooked second movie comes into play as Mike strikes up a courtship with Marta which is about as plausible as Eastwood getting into a bar fight or becoming the town vet. In fact, the latter half of “Cry Macho” awkwardly sees townsfolk coming to Mike as if he were an animal soothsayer. When the locals bring their animals to be treated, for reasons unexplained, the sound advice Mike gives them goes along the lines of: “Rest and drink lots of water.” Eastwood, or at least his stunt double, even mount a horse in a last bid to showcase Mike’s glory days of being a five-time champion before a terrible accident, years prior, upended that lifestyle.
Written by the late N. Richard Nash before expanding the script into a novelization, “Cry Macho” sleepily goes through the motions about two unlikely allies forging common ground, and one of a retired cowboy yearning for his second chance. Eastwood has worked hard to build up a solid filmography and he held onto making “Cry Macho” until he was old enough to play the lead role. Though such determination takes a certain level of machismo all its own, “Cry Macho,” saunters into the sunset with a whimper. Thankfully, this is a small picture on an expansive resume that will do minimal to tarnish Eastwood’s legacy. Hopefully he’s got one more good ride left in him.
CRY MACHO is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.