Review by Sean Boelman
Eastwood gets the audience into the world he's creating right off of the bat with a little country music, an old Chevy truck driving down a dirt road, and horses running around in their pasture. We're instantly put into the world he created for Cry Macho. It's right out of his playbook.
In the world of cinema, some names define various genres such as Scorsese and Coppola are synonymous with gangster pictures, Steven Spielberg is known for fantasy/sci-fi films, and Hitchcock is the master of thrillers. In that same discussion, Clint Eastwood is associated with the Western genre. He is known for films such as The "Man with No Name Trilogy", Unforgiven, Pale Rider, and The Outlaw Josey Wales. When he does a Western, it's kind of a big deal.
Cry Macho is considered a neo-Western set in the modern day and adopting themes from today, even though it does have feelings of the past from the little towns in Mexico to old cars and so forth. Even though it's set in the modern day, the lone wolf trope still works. Also the rescuer theme as well. Clint's character fits into all of these categories. That's what makes him appealing to mass audiences. People can relate to him on that level.
Eastwood's character is a ranch hand, but he was an old rodeo star in his younger days. His backer (Dwight Yoakam) decides to strong-arm him into going to Mexico because he owes him a favor for the past where he bankrolled him and his career. He says his son is in Mexico and his crazy wife won't let him go. He needs him to go down there and get the kid and bring him back. He has ulterior motives, though. And the old cowboy is having more problems than he thought getting the kid and getting him back into the States.
Eastwood adapts the book of the same name with a script from Nick Schenk and N. Richard Nash. They are pretty straightforward with the themes in the book. Eastwood plays on his persona perfectly. The lone wolf routine is right up his alley. Even though he came out on record as saying he wasn't going to act again, he couldn't resist getting back in the saddle again for this sweet story of an old man who rescues a young teen from a tough life in Mexico. Along the way, they both make friends they'll never forget and create an amazing friendship themselves.
Eastwood's directorial style is one of a very distinct nature. Whatever he's been doing since directing Play Misty For Me back in the 1970s, it's been working. He's won a few Oscars for his work in the last few decades. One last movie on his resume couldn't hurt his impeccable reputation with viewers or his compatriots. This makes him one of the best directors ever. Acting is just a bonus for him, but he still can make people go out and see his films. In the case of Cry Macho, it's also on HBO Max, so they can watch it in the comfort of their own homes.
Cry Macho reinforces the legacy Eastwood has created for himself, whether it be acting or directing. He is a living legend. He rarely makes a bad film. The heart and sweetness he imbues into Cry Macho reminded me of Gran Torino to some extent. This is right out of Eastwood's playbook from where I was sitting watching it. It's another solid outing for him.
Cry Macho hits theaters and HBO Max on September 17.