Though it’s undeniable what a powerhouse actor and director Clint Eastwood is – he won the Best Director and Best Picture Academy Award twice, for those keeping score – Cry Macho is proof that he’s losing his touch.
His fourth film in three years – following 15:17 To Paris, The Mule, and Richard Jewell – Cry Macho is a meandering, borderline dull western-adjacent drama that feels shockingly pedestrian; even Eastwood’s own performance is questionable.
The Macho of the title is the name of a rooster (yes, seriously), one that belongs to the young Rafo (Eduardo Minett), a Mexican teenager whose white father, Howard (Dwight Yoakam, similarly turning in an uninspired performance), wishes to have him home with him in the United States. So who are you going to call to cross the border and potentially intimidate your ex in order to get your estranged son back? Clint Eastwood, of course.
The cockfighting lifestyle for Rafo, hence his affinity for his rooster (not a euphemism), means he has his share of criminal activities to his name, something that will prove a thorn in the side of Eastwood’s Mike Milo, an employee of Howard’s who has been saddled with the task of bringing him home. And this would be all well and good if Rafo’s mother hadn’t released her henchmen-for-hire loose to stop Mike in his tracks.
Though not necessary to give in to an action temperament when detailing a story such as this, Cry Macho very obviously suffers from its lack of relentlessness. The fact that it is so gentle means the occasional moment of genuine drama creeps through, but, for the most part of its 104 minutes, it’s a little too quiet for its own good; and that’s not just because Eastwood’s quiet, whispering technique of delivering dialogue has descended into a barely audible mumble.
The film’s thematics of heroism, masculinity, and fatherhood are also barely realised either. It flirts with them but never follows through (a cock tease, if you will, and yes, pun intended), and whenever the film makes you think there’s a dramatic build on the horizon, it consistently peters out, seemingly content to always under deliver.
Sure, at 91 years of age we can’t expect too much physicality from Eastwood, and it’s at least something that he’s still in the saddle, but Cry Macho is ultimately all the more frustrating because it does so little with his character and he gives even less as an actor.
TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Cry Macho is now screening in Australian theatres.