“The second Eastwood film of the year” isn’t a phrase I’d usually type with relish, given his directed films are often slightly hyperinflated, what with critics forming a plug while attempting to kiss his arse. Despite being 20 minutes too long, Changeling wasn’t actually half bad, and Gran Torino is marked as the last film to feature Eastwood in front of the camera. He’s about 102 years old, so it’s fairly understanding.
Gran Torino is angry Clint – grumpy Clint – basically, Hulk Clint. He is moments from grunting “Clint bash” during a tempter tantrum, has a Batman-esque perma-gravel to his voice, and sometimes displays such a comedy-level of anger that you wouldn’t be surprised if jets of steam were shown shooting out of his ears. At times he looks so weirdly old and angry that his face mirrors that of the moments in the two newest Hulk films where they are in transition between real person and Hulk – a sort of CGI face that looks like the actor but is a bit odd and veiny.
Anyway, Gran Torino is this comedy-style angry Clint fighting neighbourhood gangs, providing a father figure, and just generally being quite racist. If you’ve seen the trailer then it’s fairly obvious of the entire story arc, and to be honest even if you haven’t it’s still reasonably paint-by-numbers. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, Clint’s grumpy man bristling against his bratty children and an over-enthusiastic priest being particularly amusing.
Still you can’t help but feel this comedy grump act is oddly juxtaposed with some horrific violent acts – almost as if it’s actually not too bad because it’s a “non-American” being attacked. And the continuous reliance on weapons makes you wonder if it’s sponsored by the National Rifle Association. Need to solve a dispute? Whip out a gun! It’s fun – with a ‘g’. I should sell that tag-line.
Anyway, this is very much a Clint vehicle, with some strikingly poor supporting acting in some places, and you’d wonder if it would be half as popular without the leading man. Still, he gets to close his final film as an actor with a nice Jesus comparison (check out the pose) which I’m sure critics will clamour to agree with. Many are recommending this purely because it is his last. I don’t see why this should be the sole reason to watch it, and its weak plot (feels like a film that was made in the 90s – don’t ask me why) doesn’t give any further points. The only reason would be to chuckle at angry Clint, but if you watch the trailer you’ve pretty much covered it. Therefore Gran Torino gets a slightly underwhelming CF-1. Sorry Clint. Don’t bash me. Or shoot me…