The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent Tony Farinella.
“Cry Macho” shows a more sensitive and vulnerable Clint Eastwood looking back on his film career and life. After all, this is the 50th anniversary of his working relationship with Warner Brothers. He has always been a patient filmmaker known for gorgeous scenery and knowing how to get the most out of each and every scene. Roger Ebert once said Eastwood’s films are a prime example of old-fashioned Hollywood craftsmanship. The fact Eastwood is 91 and still directing and acting in films is truly astounding and surreal. This is a quiet, peaceful and contemplative film. As an actor, he has always known how less is more. He’s never been an overly loud or showy actor, and he knows the best way to get an emotional reaction out of the audience is through his face.
This film is set in 1979 as Eastwood plays Mike Milo, a retired rodeo star who has turned to booze and pills due to a broken back. His ex-boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam) calls in a favor with Mike after all he’s done to support him throughout the years. He wants Mike to go from Texas to Mexico and bring back his thirteen-year-old son Rafo (Eduardo Minett). Howard claims he can’t go there for legal reasons and because of trouble with the son’s mother. Mike will do this job as a one-time favor for Howard, but he has his reservations about the situation. He wonders if Howard’s son will come with him and how he’s going to pull this off.
Upon entering Mexico, he runs into Howard’s ex, Leta (Fernanda Urrejola), who claims he can take her son if he’s able to find him. In her eyes, he’s getting into trouble all of the time and spending too much time at cock fights with his rooster named Macho. Rafo doesn’t trust anyone, especially Mike, but he’s interested in reconnecting with his father and getting away from his mother and her many male suitors. Many of these men have beaten Rafo in the past, and he wants to get as far away from that as possible.
Along the way, Mike, Rafo and Macho have to escape from police officers as well as Leta’s goons. They have car issues and also have trouble connecting with each other at times. On the other hand, Mike sees a chance at redemption with Rafo in that he can make up for the mistakes of his past. He sees something special in Rafo, especially with how the kid has been forced to grow up very quickly because of his upbringing. They do get some help along the way from a widow named Marta (Natalia Traven) and her grandchildren. There might even be a little bit of a love story between Marta and Mike as well.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the good things in “Cry Macho.” The film is beautifully paced. Eastwood is known as a director who usually shoots scenes in one-take. There is something very authentic and real about his films. There is a sense of time and place throughout the film. He’s the major star here, and he’s still got it at age 91. At times, he does appear a little frail, but I’m going to chalk that up to the character he’s playing having broken his back. His comedic timing, line deliveries and charisma are still on full-display. He’s a minimalist actor, as mentioned earlier, which I’ve always appreciated.
Now, let’s focus on some of the issues. Dwight Yoakam has acted before in films, but he reads his lines here in such a bland and flat manner. Also, some of the lesser-known actors here are a little green when it comes to their acting chops. In some cases, it lends itself perfectly to the film. In other cases, it can be a little cringy and hard to watch. When you have a seasoned pro like Eastwood, you are hoping to see him act alongside some really good actors. It’s always good for up-and-comers to get an opportunity in a major motion picture, but even at age 91, Eastwood is miles ahead of them. In some scenes, it was difficult to watch their inexperience, and in other scenes, it’s charming and exactly what the scene needs. Overall, this is not one of Eastwood’s greatest films, but it’s watchable, sweet and entertaining. It is good enough.
* * * out of * * * *
Blu-Ray Info: “Cry Macho” is released on a single-disc Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. It has a running time of 104 minutes and is rated PG-13 for language and thematic elements. It also comes with a digital copy of the film.
Video/Audio Info: The film is presented in 1080p High Definition. For the audio, it comes in the following formats: DTS-HD MA: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: English Descriptive Audio, French, and Spanish. Subtitles are included in English, French, and Spanish.
Back in the Saddle: The Making of Cry Macho and the Mustangs
Should You Buy It?
As with anything on HBO Max, I always enjoy a second viewing on Blu-ray. I find I’m the type of viewer who likes to watch certain films multiple times to really grasp the vision of the director. With “Cry Macho,” once again, I enjoyed it more on a second viewing. It’s heartfelt, touching, and reflective on the part of Clint Eastwood. He gives a great speech about being “macho” and what it really means. It feels like Eastwood has evolved as a human being, and he’s commenting on some of his past work. As far as the film itself, it was an enjoyable viewing experience. It is nothing which is going to blow you away as a viewer or stay with you after it’s over. The Blu-ray is pretty bare bones in terms of having only one special feature. I can’t recommend it as a purchase right away at its current price. If you can get it in a few months for $10 or less and you are a big Eastwood fan, I’d pick it up then. There is no need to rush out to buy it right away.
**Disclaimer** I received a Blu-ray copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.