I hope I can still ride a horse at 91 too, but I hope that I won’t have to make a lackluster movie to prove it.

Actor, director, producer and living Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood shows no signs of stopping, but as his latest film “Cry Macho” cries, maybe he should reconsider that.

This neo-Western takes extra time getting from beat to beat where it doesn’t need to and fills the space with extra dialogue or subverbal reactions that sound out of place and forced by the actors, specifically Eastwood, who stars as Mike Milo, a former rodeo star and ranch hand.

Mike is tasked with the mission from his former boss Howard Polk, a performance phoned in by country singer Dwight Yoakam, to travel to Mexico City and retrieve his estranged teenage son, Rafo (Eduardo Minett). Howard’s reason is that Rafo’s mother, Leta (Fernanda Urrejola) is “crazy” and abusing their kid, so Mike agrees with little argument.

Once in Mexico, he finds a luxurious home and Leta hosting a party, where she tells him that if she can find Rafo he’s welcome to take him back to Texas.

So he does. Rafo is out on the streets, competing in cockfights with his rooster, Macho. When cops break up the current fight and Rafo and Mike are able to hide (more like shuffle behind some boxes in Eastwood’s case), Mike convinces the kid to come back with him. Of course, Rafo takes off, saying he’s going home to collect his things, but when Mike goes after him, he instead finds Leta as she propositions him as a kind of celebration for finding the teen, but he refuses. She gets mad and decides that Rafo cannot go with him and if he takes him, she’ll make sure he’s arrested.

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Mike hightails it out for the border, deciding it’s a lost cause, but Rafo has stolen away in the back of the Suburban along with Macho. So the two start a road trip north to the border, but not without some trouble along the way.

It’s definitely a softer story and it has a nice, if briefly vague, reflection on machismo, but the story as a whole is painstakingly underdeveloped. The plot is thin, and the characters have no depth beyond exactly what they spew out in overacted, expositional monologues. The women in the film (of which there are two with names and three just known as “Hippie Girls”) are reduced to stereotypes including the “crazy ex” Leta and the loving widow Marta (Natalia Traven). Even the hippie girls have no reason for being there other than, I guess, a 30-second shot of eye candy and to establish that the film takes place in the ’70s?

It’s hard to tell what’s worse, the script or the acting. Every performance save for probably Traven feels forced and under-directed, and the script lends itself to poor performances given how much of the dialogue sounds cobbled together over some shambling, monotonous car ride. Rafo and Mike “find” themselves along the way and develop a nice little bond but with little motivation beyond just being together. There are attempts at humor throughout, with lighter moments that never fully land and instead are shoved in among the random extra bits of dialogue that have been thrown in.

For any scene with any action or conflict, it’s like the other actors were made to stand and wait to feign a struggle, while Eastwood slowly walked over to them, making the whole thing feel very awkward, and then the conflict peters out about as quickly as it was poised. There feels like there are little to no stakes to any of these situations throughout.

“Cry Macho” had the ability to be much better than it turned out, even with a slowed-down Eastwood in the starring role. But between the grating script and poor acting throughout, it falls by the wayside into a disappointing mess.

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Reporter: 541-383-0304, mwhittle@bendbulletin.com

(1) comment


Hang it up, Harry, and go back to lecturing empty chairs.

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