REVIEW: Eastwood’s ‘Cry Macho’ is a misfire

Clint Eastwood is once again sporting a cowboy hat in his latest movie, but this one doesn’t take place in the old west.

In “Cry Macho,” Eastwood portrays Mike Milo, a retired rodeo star and horse breeder who was just cut from his job. His former boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam) hires him for a different job at the movie’s outset, though.

Polk’s son, Rafo (Eduardo Minett) lives in Mexico and is allegedly being abused. Mike’s job is to bring Rafo back to the United States, so the father and son can reunite. While reluctant, Mike takes the job, meets Rafo and the two go on a journey from Mexico City to the U.S. border.

When it comes to the narrative, it seems like “Cry Macho” tries to shove three stories in the film, and none of them really excel at being something special. At first, it seems like “Cry Macho” will be an on-the-run suspense feature.

But then, the two lead protagonists have an extended stay in a small Mexican town, and they meet a kind family, and the picture turns into a semi-romance as Mike starts falling for a local woman. Finally, the movie takes a turn into being a road movie, where Mike and Rafo go back on the highway.

“Cry Macho” is based on a 1970s novel with the same name, and there’s definitely a possibility that the story as a whole works better in a book format. However, when put to screen, what basically amounts to changes in genre are jarring.

Much of the movie’s story feels generic and rather corny, too. A film about a mentor and a protégé, where a father-son-like bond develops can certainly work, in fact Clintwood himself did so pretty well with 2008’s “Gran Torino.”

Courtesy Warner Bros.

Yet “Cry Macho” does very little to set itself apart from others in the genre. On top of feeling disjointed, the story featured is stale and dated.

The same can be said for the dialogue, which comes across as mostly unrealistic. There are many moments where character interactions feel forced or awkward.

It’s also apparent that Eastwood really seems too old for this role. He managed to still be convincing as a rugged, grizzled, old tough guy in “Torino,” but more than a decade later, it’s noticeable that he doesn’t fit in this one.

Whether it’s throwing a punch or being fawned over by the woman, Marta, from the small village, Eastwood just feels miscast for the position. While Eastwood can still portray the father figure personality and show genuine emotion, the rest of what’s needed in the role is missing.

Another detriment is the performance by Minett. Unfortunately, Minett doesn’t bring in a lot of experience to the role outside of a few TV credits, and it shows. It’s hard to be too harsh with criticism since he’s a young actor, but his lack of experience is noticeable at times.

There aren’t many bright spots in the supporting cast, either. For example, Yoakam does little more than rattle off exposition.

In the past five years, while having some lows like “The 15:17 to Paris,” Eastwood remains a solid director. “American Sniper” from 2014, “Sully” in 2016 and “Richard Jewell” in 2019 were all solid additions to his filmography.

His competency as a director is still at play in “Cry Macho.” It has the polish of an experienced filmmaker. However, there are too many shortcomings that make this a misfire. 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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