"You got your whole life ahead of you, but for me, I finish things."This is one of the few Oscar contenders this year that I hadn't seen until now. I was dissuaded to see it because the commercial wasn't very enticing. It looked like actor/director Clint Eastwood was trying to resurrect his 1970s Dirty Harry image on a couple of gangsters in his neighborhood, and, quite simply I wasn't buying it. But several folks I knew convinced me to give it a try.
Eastwood stars as a disgruntled old Korean war vet who's set in his ways until a Hmong family moves next door and causes more commotion than he preferred. As a somewhat uncomfortably racist man whose wife just died and whose children couldn't care less about him, he's become mean and stiff in his old age and doesn't like the new folks on the block. After the youngest in the family attempts to steal his Gran Torino as part of a gang intiation, he lets him know who's boss. But when he finds out that the boy's family is being tormented by that gang, he intervenes and threatens the young gangsters off his street to the family's appreciation (even though he was really trying to get them away from his house). He reluctantly befriends the boy, and learns about him and his family and, ultimately, becomes the father figure the young boy never had--teaching him how to stand tough and build confidence.
I'm going to have to admit it's a bit odd to see a 70-something year old man try to provide guidance to a lost boy, but I got over that. The movie is quite slow, and drags until the middle, leading up to an anticlimactic finish, which disappointed me. Seeing Eastwood ward off young gangsters was odd as well, but he pulled it off enough. As with most Eastwood flicks, it's very dark and drab with an unexpected ending. I can't really call this one. I think the hype is bigger than the premise--an old man nearing the end of his life who finally succumbs to the unlikely father-son love he's been avoiding all his life, and is determined to keep it from slipping out of his hands.
My rating: B