There’s a brand new Clint Eastwood-directed movie out there and little excitement is coming from me? Surprisingly, yes. I knew his latest, Cry Macho, was coming out since when he is ninety-one years old and still making movies, that’s something. He’s following up with two of his better films with The Mule and Richard Jewell, so there’s hope to be found with this neo-western. But this belongs in the pile of his films to forget about.
What’s the Story: One-time rodeo star Michael Milo (Eastwood) is hired by his former boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam), who fired him a year ago, to do him a favor–travel down to Mexico City to retrieve his teenage son Rafael “Rafo” Polk (Eduardo Minett) from his mother (Fernanda Urrejola) and bring him back to Texas–along with his rooster named Macho, while escaping from gangsters and the authorities.
You would think a movie like Cry Macho would be right up Eastwood’s ally with making a modern cowboy-type drama that he has done with similar characters in the past. And you would think that, but it doesn’t execute the way you imagined it. Based on the 1975 novel by N. Richard Nash, it’s a surprise to know this story has been in development to be adapted for the screen for years. Eastwood himself was going to star in it in 1988 but passed on the role, and he’s back to do the job 33 years later with a movie that could’ve worked better back then if we’re being honest.
As you’re watching, there’s nothing much to the simple story itself, and that is what happens when the screenplay by Nash and Nick Schenk couldn’t make the events in here interesting for two hours. We’re following Mike and Rafo on this trip back without any danger, and the tension is barely felt. Nothing helps more when the dialogue can come across as clunky. It has two characters that are given some development, but it came at a time when it’s not enough to care for them now. The urgency wasn’t enough to know if anyone is on the worrying side, even if it’s supposed to be a redemption story also.
Eastwood, at the point, can do anything if he wants to, yet this isn’t a performance from his that I wouldn’t call his best. This was one of those times where I just see him and not a character. A different actor would’ve made the role better to understand; he’s more miscast when you think about it when an actor in his 40s or 50s is more suited. The friendship that grows with Eduardo Minett’s Rafo didn’t find any connection with me of what it means for him to be “Macho.” Speaking of Minett, he’s someone I don’t want to criticize too much since I don’t think he acted in a lot before this, but some of his line deliveries actually needed more takes.
Pretty much from the start, you know what you’re getting. Watching this still proves someone like Eastwood is a capable director when a project appeals to him, and there’s some gorgeous scenery from cinematographer Ben Davis in the first act that was lovely to look at. It somewhat picks up when they stop in this town where they meet cantina owner Marta (Natalia Traven), though it’s easy to wonder why the plot sort of stops. The rest of the affair has that slow pace normally found in most of his filmography.
With a better crew at hand, I can see it working better, but alas, it won’t have anything emotionally resonating to find it charming to sit through. All Cry Macho had to do is be one of his better outings that shows toxic masculinity the way it won’t feel bland. Still, there’s nothing too important to look forward to when there’s more enjoyment in watching better movies from the director instead, like Unforgiven.
Final Thoughts: Cry Macho is just one of those Clint Eastwood movies that’s nothing special to ride home about. Beautiful cinematography aside, it settles for being dull and forgettable rather than leave an impactful impression once it’s over. Chances are you’ll find it boring.