At 91, Clint Eastwood is still throwing punches, riding horses and directing movies. Amazing!
In this contemporary Western, set in 1980, Eastwood plays Mike Milo, a former horse trainer/rodeo rider, on a mission to cross the Rio Grande, rescue and kidnap his boss’s estranged 13 year-old son, Raphael (Eduardo Minett), who was abandoned by his Texan father (Dwight Yoakum) and abused by his alcoholic Mexican mother (Fernanda Urrejola).
Rebellious Rafa is devoted to Macho, his cherished fighting rooster; hence the movie’s title.
“This macho thing is overrated,” laid-back Mike tells him. “You think you have all the answers, but then you get older and realize you don’t have any of ‘em. By the time you figure it out, it’s too late.”
That’s probably the longest monologue laconic Eastwood has, as their meandering road trip takes them from Mexico City through one dusty border town to another, eluding Rafa’s mother’s henchmen, and stopping briefly at a cantina run by warm, welcoming Marta (Natalia Traven), a widow caring for her three orphaned grandchildren.
Adapted from a 1975 novel by N. Richard Nash, it was originally scripted by Nash (who died in 2000) and updated by Nick SchenkThe Mule, Grand Torino). The redemptive, coming-of-age theme revolves around developing a poignant bond between dyspeptic Mike and distrusting Rafa.
Curiously, back in 1988, when Eastwood originally read the script, he turned it down because he felt he was too young for weather-beaten Mike; over the years, several other actors, including Robert Mitchum, Roy Scheider and Arnold Schwarzenegger, expressed interest but, ultimately, backed out.
FYI: Animal-wranglers used 11 different birds to play the pivotal pet rooster. In addition, Eastwood wrote and performed “Time Lapse,” one of the soundtrack themes.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Cry Macho is a charming, compassionate 7. It’s playing in theaters but more satisfying streaming on HBO Max.