Written by Hombre Divertido
Clint Eastwood is certainly capable of carrying a film, and has proven his ability to direct and act in the same endeavor, but this film displays a severe lack of capability by anyone in front or behind the camera. Let us hope that this is not the last time we see Eastwood on the big screen, because this is a terrible film.
It was obvious that the audience was in trouble in the very first scene of the movie when the two sons of widower and Korean War Veteran Walt Kowalski (Eastwood) are having a conversation during their mother’s funeral. It becomes very clear early in the scene that the conversation is horribly contrived, and that neither person involved can act.
Though one might optimistically hope that some of the newcomers to the big screen might actually have some acting ability, unfortunately it is only Eastwood that displays any thespian chops in this one hour and fifty-six minute outing, and he is saddled with a one-dimensional character.
The story surrounding Kowalski is full of holes, and plays out like a Karate Kid imitation where Eastwood is the mentor who teaches his young introverted neighbor how to be a man. Add in the fact that Kowalski is a loudmouth, curmudgeon bigot living in a Detroit neighborhood he no longer fits into, and counting his outrageous racial slurs becomes the only entertaining way to get through the film.
Obviously you cannot fault the other actors in the film for taking their respective roles, but the performances are so bad that they detract and distract from the film and make it virtually impossible to sit through.
You can fault screenwriter Nick Schenk for a predictable story that only contains a few turns, many of which make little sense, dialog that is horribly contrived, and the slight character development allotted to Eastwood’s Kowalski is without motivation.
Ultimately the blame lies with Eastwood for choosing such a poor script to direct and star in, and for allowing himself to be surrounded on screen by incompetent performances.
Eastwood manages some nice moments simply because there is nostalgia in seeing this icon bark like he did in Heartbreak Ridge or get tough like he did so many times as Dirty Harry. The nostalgia doesn’t get you too far as the story that is Gran Torino runs out of gas long before your child-size seven-dollar bag runs out of popcorn.
Recommendation: Wait for it to come out on DVD and then don’t rent it. TBS and TNT will have it soon enough. Spend the holidays praying for Eastwood to give it another go in front of the camera. It can’t end like this.