Recently, I rewatched the 1994 Wolfgang Peterson film, In the Line of Fire. In this movie, Clint Eastwood plays a secret service agent named Frank Horrigan, who is haunted by his failure to save President Kennedy. A villain, who goes by the name of Booth (subtle) uses this information to taunt Frank about his failures, his age, and killing the current president.(This is a good movie.) A lot of time is spent on Frank’s age. The main theme of the movie seems to be that Frank is old and washed up and doesn’t have anything left. (You know, a lot of the same themes that were explored in Unforgiven, which came out two years before.) Anyway, I think about In the Line of Fire anytime Clint Eastwood has a new movie coming out – that movie from, now, 27 years ago, about the washed-up old guy who didn’t have anything left.
And, yes, Clint Eastwood is back as an actor and director in Cry Macho, a movie with a razor-thin plot, where nothing much at all happens, but I still find myself enjoying it. There’s something irresistibly pleasant about the whole thing – which is just an excuse for Clint to star in a movie that could loosely be described as an “action” role. (Clint does get to throw a punch.)
Set in 1979 briefly, before moving to 1980, Eastwood plays Mike Milo, an ex-rodeo star whose former boss, Howard (Dwight Yoakam), asks Mike to go to Mexico and “rescue” his son, Rafael (Eduardo Minett), from his mother. Nothing about Howard’s story is believable. And I get the impression Eastwood, as director, doesn’t much care. Eastwood even stumbles over a couple of lines and it’s pretty obvious Eastwood just wants to look at the camera and say, “Look, punk, I know I stumbled over the line, but you get the point. There’s no need to do this shot again and waste everyone’s time. Besides, this is a bad scene anyway and we all know it. But I have to put it in here to get to the heart of the movie. Now sit back and enjoy the picture.”
Mike finds Rafael pretty quickly. Rafael spends his free time cockfighting with his buddy, a rooster named Macho. Rafael doesn’t like his mother much (played by Fernanda Urrejola, who seems very wealthy from, most likely, questionable business practices) and doesn’t seem to like his father much either, but decides going to live with his father back in the United States is the more desirable of the two lousy situations. Unfortunately, Rafael’s mother tells Mike that if he takes Rafael some bad things will happen to Mike, so he’s now hesitant about the whole situation, but eventually takes a liking to Rafael and the two set out on a road trip.
And that’s the heart of the movie, just Mike and Rafael getting to know each other, traveling together, and getting in adventures that include getting their truck stolen, stealing a car of their own, and hanging out on a horse ranch trying to tame wild horses in exchange for some money and food. A lot of these scenes include a lot of extended scenes of dialog. A lot of Clint Eastwood talking about mortality and regret, which becomes surprisingly touching at times. And, sure, Cry Macho allows Eastwood to woo a lady on screen again, and throw that aforementioned punch.
(Speaking of punching, since this is set in 1980, I wonder if Mike Milo saw Any Which Way You Can, which came out that same year, the sequel to Every Which Way But Loose. You know, the movie in which Clint Eastwood plays Philo Beddoe, a truck driver with a pet orangutan named Clyde who is also a bare-knuckles brawler. I bet Mike Milo would like these movies.)
The trailer for Cry Macho focuses on the more action-y parts of the movie, which are less than you probably think there will be. A lot of this movie is just Mike and Raphael hanging out with the family that owns the horse ranch. And, to be fair, I don’t really think I needed to see a movie about a 91-year-old guy getting into numerous bar fights and coming away unscathed, or whatever. Even the one fight Mike gets into, he’s helped by the rooster, Macho. (This rooster comes in handy a few times along the way.) But, no, instead it’s a road trip movie. Where these two get into antics more suitable for a Dumb & Dumber movie than Dirty Harry. And what the movie doesn’t have in plot (again, Eastwood might have well just put up a bunch of “yadda yadda yaddas” about anything that drives the plot here), it makes up in heart. This isn’t Eastwood making something like The Mule, which was infamously raunchy. This is Eastwood being reflective, and surprisingly sweet. I honestly hope Clint Eastwood keeps making movies forever.You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.