The Stream: A plot that is basic with a capital “B”.
The Big Screen: A charming and sweet chemistry between to the two leads.
The Final Bill: A bland movie that will sneak up on you with an endearing central relationship.– Trip Fontaine
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writers: Nick Schenk and N. Richard Nash
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Eduardo Minett, Fernanda Urrejola
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Western
Rating: PG-13 for language and thematic elements.
Runtime: 1 hour 43 minutes
Production Companies: Warner Bros., Malpaso Productions, Daniel Grodnik Productions
Platform: In theaters/ HBO Max
Howdy, Streamers! Cry Macho premiered this week in theaters and on HBO Max, and we watched it on HBO Max. It’s the new film from prolific director and Hollywood icon, Clint Eastwood. At 90-years-old, it seems like Eastwood still churns out a movie almost every year, and he frequently has a starring role in his directorial efforts. Here, Eastwood has continued to trade on his legacy of old Western, strong-and-silent, cowboy type. The question here is whether that machismo in Eastwood is still compelling. Let’s see how it goes.
Based on a 1975 novel of the same name, Cry Macho is the story of Mike Milo (Eastwood), a former rodeo star, who after having suffered a devastating injury began working as a horse trainer on a ranch. Due to indulgence in alcohol and pills and, generally, no longer being reliable as a ranch hand, Mike loses his job. However, Mike’s former boss enlists him to go to Mexico City to retrieve his son, Rafael (Eduardo Minett), from his abusive and neglectful mother. The boss’ motives are unclear to Mike; nevertheless, with reservations, Mike travels from Texas to Mexico City to pick up the 13-year-old boy. Rafael is troubled, according to his unreliable mother, and Mike finds the boy out cockfighting with his trusty rooster, Macho. As Mike and Rafael travel back to Texas to meet his father, Rafael’s mother sends her heavies and the Federales after them. From there, a road trip/lowkey chase movie ensues. It’s Gran Torino on the road in Mexico, or many other variations on some Clint Eastwood movies.
As we’ve come to know, Clint Eastwood is a simple filmmaker. There’s not a lot of flash. It’s all very uncomplicated and easy. Essentially, Cry Macho is a road movie between an old man and a kid where they break down each other’s walls along the way. Nothing surprising, and so the emotion is key for this film to work. Like a sucker, it got me. Despite it all, it’s a nice movie with a good central relationship. In fact, the simplicity of it all makes it so much easier to be endearing, especially since you know what’s coming at almost every turn.
If there are problems here, it is because Clint Eastwood is doing his regular Clint Eastwood thing. He is gruff and stoic. It’s a carbon copy of many of the roles he has played in the last few years or throughout his legendary career. Eduardo Minett does his best as Rafael, but the acting is rough going – especially in the beginning. Eventually, he gets into the rhythm with Eastwood and they fall into a nice chemistry. I’ll also shout out Natalia Traven as Marta because she sweeps in in the last third of the movie and infuses every scene of hers with charisma and beauty.
The biggest problem is how basic, with a capital “B”, this plot is – it tends toward eye-roll inducing except for how charming it ultimately becomes.
Although Cry Macho can be bland at times, the central relationship between Mike and Rafael brings charm and sweetness to the film. Eastwood has a distinct style of direction and acting that can be repetitive from movie to movie, but this snuck up on me and has won me over and likely will win other viewers over as well. It’s probably only a handful of popcorn for theater viewers, but it’s a nice bowl of popcorn for those streaming on a quiet Sunday afternoon.