Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gran Torino

Directed by Clint Eastwood.
2008. Rated R, 116 minutes.
Clint Eastwood
Bee Vang
Ahney Her
Christopher Carley

Plot: Bitter, old, racist widower Walt (Eastwood) begrudgingly takes a liking to the Asian teenagers who live next door, even after one of them tried to steal his 1972 Gran Torino.

The Good: Like most Eastwood directed movies, the story breathes and the characters develop without dragging. As our ever-abrasive (anti)hero, Clint proves himself more than a capable actor as well. Through his portrayal, enabled by an excellent script, he gives Walt pain, bitterness and depth. That depth most often surfaces in his exchanges with Father "J" (Carley). His young female costar, Ahney Her who plays Sue, has a real presence and commands attention. She appears to have a bright future if, ironically enough, her race doesn't typecast her.

The Bad: The racial epithets constantly flying from Walt's mouth are fine because they're germaine to the story. However, a better job could've been done showing more diversity within the different ethnicities. Not doing so lends credence to his racism and undermines what appears to be the moral of the story. In other words, since most of the Asians, Blacks and Hispanics we see are low-lives, why shouldn't he behave the way he does? Acting wise, Vang who plays Thao, appears to give a forced performance. However, since his character's relationship with Walt is akin to Daniel's with Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid I can live with it. It's not like Ralph Macchio was really all that great, either. Yes, I realize that's blasphemy to those of you old enough to care.

The Ugly: What happens to Sue.

Recommendation: This a very good drama for about 100 minutes followed by an ending that elevates it to the level of excellence. It might sound strange but it's really a hybrid of Falling Down and the aforementioned The Karate Kid. However, it doesn't just copy them. It borrows elements of both and adds some of its own to create something different.

MY SCORE: 9/10

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