88. Gran Torino (2008)

Coolest grandpa on the block

9/10
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Nick Schenk
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang and Christopher Carley

Clint Eastwood will never get old.

While he stars in Gran Torino as a retired old grandpa called Walt, whose bitterness for life and everyone around him is repeatedly expressed through scowls and reaching for his gun, he can still pull off a sense of cool that calls back to the grittiness of Dirty Harry and the effortlessly likeable qualities of his role in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  And when it comes to directing, producing and just telling a compelling and original story, Eastwood has still got it.

Clint Eastwood as Neighbourhood Watch

Walt (Eastwood) lives next door to a Hmong family who are terrorized by a gang headed by one of their own relatives. When the youngest teen boy in the family, Thao (Vang), naively tries to steal Walt’s Gran Torino under the pressure of this gang, Walt becomes an unexpected role model for the young kid in ways that neither of them would have expected.

While Gran Torino is essentially a dramatic thriller with a few guns pointed here and there, and Walt’s own haunting past as a Korean vet hanging in the air, there is much more to the film than a character simply trying to get over the horrible things he did under the commands of war. Gran Torino uses the tensions and difficulties of overcoming racial prejudices and differences to shake Walt out of the deep seated guilt and bitterness that he has accumulated over the years. The relationships that he develops with his next door neighbours and the entire neighbourhood also touch on a little humour and moving qualities that may not have been expected from the darkly badass poster and trailer that was circulated around for this film.

Gran Torino is wonderfully executed with performances that feel natural, and visual direction that is driven by both action and thought-provoking concepts of redemption, forgiveness, and as Walt argues with the local Father, “life and death.”

 

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