- Movie Rating -

Cry Macho (2021)

| September 17, 2021

Cowboys always lament that they are a dying breed, that the rapid progress of mankind is pushing them out of existence.  The same might be said of movie stars.  In the progression of technology, the speed at which movies are made, and demand for “on-demand” there’s little time for actors to grow, to become so publicly lionized in the ways that they did in the 20th century.  With the passing of Kirk Douglas and Sean Connery, it is clear that they are a dying breed.  Both actors had a stature, a larger-than-life quality that filled the screen.  You knew who they were and the kinds of roles they’d be playing from the moment you saw them.  This is an honor still bestowed on Clint Eastwood, a man who has been so lauded by the moviegoing public and by the industry that he is no longer just an actor or a director.  He is the great fact of American cinema.

At 91, Eastwood is still going and the value of Cry Macho is to see hi

Cry Macho, which he produced and directed, is an imperfect movie, a film that is better in it’s solemn moments then in it’s plot which is often creaky and feels a little unfinished.  But at the center is Eastwood, now 91, whose age shows in his face, his stance, his voice and even when he slowly – very slowly – sits down at a dinner table.  He plays Mike Milo, a former champion rodeo rider whose better days are long past him.  He has lived long enough that the glory has long passed by injury, booze and regret.  As the movie opens, he goes to work at his job at a horse ranch.  His boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakum) berates him for coming in after the lunch hour,  “You’re late!” he says.  “For what?” Mike asks.  He fires Mike only to turn back up a year later to ask for a favor that apparently only Mike can help with.

It seems that Howard has a son down Mexico-way who is living with his rich-bitch mother (Fernanda Urrejola), a partying whore who is allowing the boy, named Rafo (Eduardo Minett), to be a gambler, a boozer and a cockfighter, and seems to take no concern in the fact that he is being physically abused.  Legal issues prevent Howard from going across the border so he asks Mike to go down an retrieve him.  That means that Eastwood gets to go on the road and have another road adventure just like he did in Two Mules for Sisters Sarah.  That’s not a bad thing.

What I like here are the characters.  I like the relationship between he and the kid, the old man who has seen it all, and the kid whose life is still ahead.  They have a really great bond and they are the best thing about the movie.  I like the subtle moments, particularly a section late in the film when they stop off at a small Mexican ranch and Mike becomes the town’s local vet.  There’s a quiet and almost peaceful quality to these scenes that I found really engaging.

Unfortunately, the plot rolls in and spoils the fun.  There is more than one scene of tranquility that is ruined by the arrival of some filthy bad guys.  The plot about getting Rafo back to the states is underwritten, unconvincing and has an ending that is way too clean.  There is an opportunity here to address issues such as immigration that Eastwood never takes, and the issue of how Howard got the kid back into the states is never really dealt with.

Still there is a good movie here.  I’m a long-time Eastwood fan going all the way back to when I was a kid in the 70s and I can say that while I liked it, it’s not among my top 20 of his work.  There are themes here that he has already dealt with much better.  There’s age and regret – Unforgiven.  There’s the kidnapping of a young boy – A Perfect World.  And there’s protecting someone who is being exploited – Million Dollar Baby.  It’s all here, but I would not have wanted to miss an opportunity for one more film from someone that I admire so much.  It’s a good movie, not great, but I’m glad that I saw it.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2021) View IMDB Filed in: Drama