“Cry Macho” stars Clint Eastwood, Eduardo Minett, Dwight Yoakam, Natalia Traven, Horacio Garcia Rojas, and Fernanda Urrejola. Released on September 17, 2021, the film is about a former rodeo star who attempts to bring a young man back to his father.
The film was directed by Clint Eastwood, who also directed films such as "Pale Rider", "Unforgiven", "Gran Torino", "American Sniper", and "The Mule". It is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by N. Richard Nash. Today, we'll be taking a small break from all of the action and explosions and look at something more serene and dramatic. This film marks the latest effort from the award-winning filmmaker/actor Clint Eastwood, who's still not slowing down in the movie business, even at 91. I'm already expecting him to have a lot of money in his retirement plan...if he retires, of course. While I'm not familiar with the book it's based on, I was interested in checking it out, mainly because of Eastwood's involvement as an actor and a director. Sure, the recent films he has done had their share of faults, but his tranquil approach towards specific topics isn't without a few bright spots, especially the dramatic heft. With that in mind, let's see if his latest drama can get him back in the Oscar spotlight.
The film follows Mike Milo (Eastwood), a rodeo star whose career ended after a severe back injury. He is hired by his former boss, Howard Polk (Yoakam), to travel to Mexico to find his son Rafael "Rafo" Polk (Minett). Rafael lives with his mother, Leta (Urrejola), and participates in illegal cockfights with a rooster named Macho. Mike then begins his road trip to deliver him back to his father, one that also sees Mike developing a friendship with Rafael. The story is a simple road trip drama that represents the meaning of being "macho" in a more subtle and relaxing way. Aside from being pursued by one of Leta's henchmen, there were not a lot of high stakes present in its drama and action. It's just a smooth journey from point A to point B with a pit stop or two. The film should prove to be suitable for people who need to unwind and enjoy Eastwood's onscreen presence instead of being bombarded with explosive action and melodramatic films. Unfortunately, it also proves that this type of direction may not appeal to everyone. Suppose you're familiar with Eastwood's filmmaking style in his other works. If that's the case, then you'll quickly notice his ability to take things slow and allow his audience to enjoy the tranquility of the sceneries in "Cry Macho". Although it does run the risk of boring some viewers with its mundane pacing, the film offered some acceptable rewards to those who are patient, such as its cinematography and Mark Mancina's calming score. However, those things alone weren't able to place it among Eastwood's stellar works from the past. There's potential to be had here regarding its story and themes, but its constant desire to shine the spotlight on Eastwood caused it to lose track of what it's trying to say. Don't get me wrong. I thought the actor did a swell job with his performance as Mike. It's just that the film lacked a compelling script to match his talents as both an actor and a filmmaker. It's like taking a horseback ride through the middle of nowhere. It's a relaxing experience with a lovely view, but after a while, it wound up hurting your butt from all of that sitting and waiting for something to happen. As for the rest of the cast, they were fine enough to stand alongside the famous star. Dwight Yoakam delivered a respectable performance as Howard Polk, the man who sends Mike to find his son. Natalia Traven was also solid in her role as Marta. Although, there was one actor that left me feeling mixed, and that was newcomer Eduardo Minett as Rafael. He wasn't entirely awful, but I did find a few moments where his acting felt very rough and uninspiring, especially when taking his chemistry with Eastwood into account. The interactions between Mike and Rafael weren't without a few charming moments, but in the end, they struggled to maintain this spark throughout its sluggish journey.
Overall, "Cry Macho" has Clint Eastwood doing what he does best: acting and directing his heart out. Unfortunately, the film's weary and overly flawed approach towards its subject matter will make you want to cry foul instead. Despite Eastwood's watchable performance and its lovely sceneries, this is by far his weakest effort as a director regarding his hit-and-miss direction and Nick Schenk's emotionless screenplay. I didn't mind its purpose of delivering a subtle movie-going experience for its audience. Still, I do wish that it could've provided something more to reach out to people outside of its target audience. If you enjoyed it more than I did because of its tranquility, then hey, good for you. That means that it got the job done. I just don't think it's the type of road trip I'll be taking again anytime soon.