I’ve seen a lot of Clint Eastwood movies and in most of them he plays the tough cop or some kind of rough around the edges hero. Then he started to direct movies but his films were the complete opposite of what we are used to when it comes to Clint Eastwood. His films had to do with compassion, not the power of a magnum handgun. If you saw a gang hassling your neighbors what would you do? Would you just stay inside and mind your own business? Would you call the cops? Or would you take matters in your own hands? Walt Kowalski chooses option number 3. He deals with the gang not because his neighbors are in trouble but because they were on his lawn.
Gran Torino is a story about an angry elderly man who only likes American cars and Americans and he’s of course the only American living in an Asian dominant neighborhood. He starts off being enemies with his next-door neighbors but when trouble arises with a local gang he starts to befriend them.
The story is a bit cliché but Clint Eastwood pulls it off as a director and an actor. The actions of the characters make sense and there never really were any moments of tackiness. There were a couple of moments when Eastwood’s acting was a little over the top, such as when he was getting angry. But his interaction with the people he hated was amazing to watch. Even the actor who played Thao Vang Lor did a pretty good job even when he has had no acting experience before this movie.
Gran Torino is like a combination of Million Dollar Baby and Dirty Harry. There are the dramatic scenes of sympathy but there are also scenes of Clint Eastwood doing what he does best, making sure the perpetrator gets what they deserve. But this time he’s not shooting everything that moves.
He plays an older man and someone who is more human. Eastwood’s previous characters, such as Harry Callahan, can be seen as almost super human. Someone who could be getting shot at by ten people and not get hit and be able to shoot them all down without blinking. Not so much in Gran Torino.
If you want to go see a good old fashion Clint Eastwood movie, then don’t go see Gran Torino. But if you want to see Eastwood going in the new direction he has been going in then this film is definitely worth it. When I went to see this film I originally was going to go see the Friday the 13th remake, but at the last minute changed my mind and I am very happy I did that. Not just because Gran Torino is a great movie but also, there were a truckload of teenyboppers packing themselves into the Friday the 13th theater.