In his first role since Million Dollar Baby (which he also directed), Clint Eastwood plays a disgruntled Korean War veteran called Walt Kowalski. His adult children are trying to get him to move into a retirement home, but he resists. When Kowalski’s neighbour, a young Hmong teenager, tries to steal his prized car – a 1972 Gran Torino – he goes all Dirty Harry and starts taking the law into his own hands.
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Well this was unexpected. Billed as a Dirty Harry-channeling drama, the first half of this turns out to be a strictly un-PC cantankerous comedy. Eastwood growls, gargles and gobs in hilarious fashion as Walt Kowalski, a man who loves his car (the Gran Torino) and his dog, but hates pretty much everyone and everything else. He especially despises the Hmong family next door and his recently deceased wife’s favourite priest who looks about 12, like some sort of holy Doogie Howser. Bigoted put-down follows bigoted put-down – and while you feel kind of guilty, you can’t help but laugh.... More
Of course, Kowalski’s human side is revealed as he finds himself united with his neighbours in a feud with a thuggish gang. Warming to the Hmong people’s kind, spiritual ways – and taking teenager Thao under his wing – Kowalski begins to atone for his loathsome, racist past, and that’s where the film slips into a more emotional gear. It works though – the pacing is nigh-on perfect, so by the time the climactic showdown arrives, you’re gagging to know what ‘Wally’ (as Hmong youngster Sue insists on calling him) is going to do – will he come back in one piece?
Yes, there are nods to Eastwood’s Magnum-toting past as he takes on the local hoons, but this is no Dirty Harry 6. Instead it’s a superbly-scripted suburban tale with tension, humour and heart in abundance. Nice one Clint.Hide
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Eastwood aside, the screenwriter clearly got really lazy as the rest of the cast struggle with a docile run-of-the-mill sideline script. Obviously Clint was so into his own role he forgot to... More direct the rest of the cast as they are floundering at points. Somehow though the movie as a whole rises above the sub-plot mediocrity and leaves you pondering it days after, which is always a great sign.Hide
The promise of this film took me to a cinema for the 1st time in 20 years. It certainly didn't disappoint. Clint may appear to be a grumpy old man to begin with but it doesn't last long. Also, can't understand why people keep 'dissing' this. It's an absolute masterpiece. Go and see it!
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