Cry Macho (2021) movie review
Cry Macho is a drama from director Clint Eastwood based on the novel by N. Richard Nash. The film stars Eastwood as Mike Milo, a former rodeo star/rancher who is tasked with traveling to Mexico to find a boy and bring him back to the United States. However when he finds Rafo, he and his fighting rooster turn out to be more than a challenge for Eastwood… The film opens this weekend in theaters and on HBO Max, however the reception to the film seems mediocre so far.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not the biggest fan of modern Clint Eastwood as a director. Even his good films post-Gran Torino (2008) feature the same flaws in music, pacing, and supporting performances. Now the question of whether or not you should see it… Does the premise sound interesting to you? It doesn’t to me, so I didn’t care for the film. But if you are up for a rather slow and aimless film that ends up being a more typical version of other movies, hey knock yourself out.
Cry Macho, despite the typical story, could work if it played its card right. Book adaptation? Check. Potentially moving story? Check. A star that very much fits the position the character is in? Check. What went wrong? Well if you ask me, Eastwood’s directing…First, let’s talk story. Cry Macho is yet another older man meets child figure that he has to protect and inevitable learn from which we JUST saw even with the rancher setting earlier this year with Liam Neeson’s The Marksman…
Now there have been other films that have managed to really run with unoriginal concepts. That typically boils down to one element. Performances? Sure that could be it. Action? Absolutely. A twist, gender swap, strong themes, a rating- really there are plenty of ways to present a cliché in a fresh light. The light Cry Macho chooses is- a meandering story that features no real motivation for the entire second act. You know, riveting stuff.
In true Eastwood fashion, the character and story setup it quickly exposited all over the audience so we know everything we need to know about the protagonist and have little to no information that could be revealed latter in the film where it would make the drama more impactful. In Eastwood’s defense, he didn’t write the screenplay. Still, this makes for a dull setup.
No you know what, the entire story is dull. And confusing! So there’s one scene where he finds the kid and he talks him into coming, so the kid is on board. Then the kid says he has to go pack his things. The kids mother then kidnaps Eastwood and tells him that Rafo tricked him. Eastwood is understandably upset, and after the mother tries to seduce this 91 year old man (the. what?) Eastwood leaves. He find Rafo hiding in his car and, furious, kicks him out and tells Rafo that he won’t take him. Rafo says he wants to go, but now Mike doesn’t want to. Why? He thought Rafo tricked him sure, but Rafo came back. With his stuff. In the car. Ready to go? And what you are just going to drive to Mexico, throw a fit, and drive back? Forced drama is forced.
Now another nitpick for some modern Eastwood films is that, aside from your A-listers, you don’t see top notch performances that often. Eastwood sees content enough with first takes and not pushing his actors, but it leads to generally forgettable characters littered throughout the film. Cry Macho is no exception, with only one or two supporting performances truly standout out. Fortunately, Eduardo Minett as Rafo is actually one of them! He really needed to sell this character to make the film, and- yeah he brings a strong performance that rivals sharing the screen with this Hollywood great. Who of course is solid.
Not only do the leads sell the performances, they have alot of chemistry! There are plenty of forced moments that don’t work whenever the film needs drama to happen, and Rafo has to say the word ‘macho’ an obnoxious amount of times. But darn it the two made me smile a few times and even feel some of the underlying hurt the two characters have faced in their past as they begin to bond and reconcile that hurt to look ahead to their futures. And you know what? That’s a potent theme.
Sadly, the theme and two decent performances don’t make the film more interesting. The setup is still weak, the entire second act just wanders around, and the finale des focus in on the characters, but resolves with a loose thread of uncertainty. I don’t know if that’s the right note to end on for this movie. Who knows, it might be perfect! But while it wasn’t a bad film, it’s not exactly a good one. If you want to watch Cry Macho, maybe save yourself the trip to the theater and watch it on HBO Max… 5/10.
So Cry Macho? Did you see it? What did you think? And what are your favorite and least favorite recent Clint Eastwood films? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, leave that like/comment combination and let us know what we should write next! Thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince