Cry Macho is a mostly routine but usually satisfying old-dog drama.
Published on September 23, 2021
Rating 3 /5
Clint Eastwood once more directs and stars in another tale about questioning age and manhood. This is nothing new for Eastwood but it certainly works well for his brand of filmmaking. He eases into these quietly gruff roles with a sage presence and a contemplative nature. Cry Macho finds himself right within his comfort zone which happens to be the film’s biggest attribute and also its greatest flaw.
Eastwood plays Mike Milo, a retired rodeo star and disgraced rancher. Trying to get by in the late 1970s, Mike isn’t as revered in his community. His former boss, Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam), despises him so much that he’s almost reluctant to ask for a favor. Howard’s son, Rafael (Eduardo Minett), resides in Mexico and Howard suspects that his mother is abusing her boy. Hoping for a reunion, Howard tasks Mike with driving over the border to bring his boy home.
When Mike arrives, he finds that Rafael is in trouble of going down a dark path. His drunk and lush mother couldn’t care less about him. Figuring the boy needs some influence, Mike reluctantly takes it upon himself to be a father figure. Of course, he’s tough on the kid before any sincerity is shown. It takes a stowaway situation, a stolen wallet, and a troublesome chicken before Mike even thinks about trying to bestow some of that southern wisdom.
The road trip that Mike and Rafael proceed down has a lot of familiar hallmarks. They bicker while in the car about what it means to be manly. Later, amid a campfire, Mike reveals his love of animals and opens up a bit more. Mike’s fatherly side comes out when interacting with a Mexican family. Having lost his own family years ago, Mike knows the heartache of losing loved ones. It makes his sign-language skills with some orphaned kids a pleasing moment for such a gruff man to showcase some warmth.
All of this is pretty par for the course of Eastwood’s directing style for his elderly characters that have a handful of lessons to learn and people to connect with. The problem with such a picture is that it doesn’t really feel as though it builds to any resonating moment or stand-out scene. The formula follows Mike and Rafael trying to escape the dangers of the fed and gangsters while having moments of slow connection. Every now and then there’s a meandering scene that showcases little more than Eastwood growling, as when feds tear up his car for drugs and find nothing. The result is more of a variety of familiar scenes that just sort of end on a flat note of Mike being a little wiser and Rafael learning a bit more as a generation gap is mended.
Cry Macho is a mostly routine but usually satisfying old-dog drama. It doesn’t exactly have any new tricks up its sleeve considering how it approaches most scenes. In many ways, the film comes as advertised which I’m sure is comforting to the older audience that has come to adore Eastwood’s style. That being said, there’s not a lot of surprises which leads to this picture being more entertaining as a series of vignettes than a strong story on the contemplation of manhood, age, and family.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.