Cry Macho

Cry Macho

In Theatres: 
Sep 17, 2021
Running Time: 
104 minutes

There’s no denying that Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood legend who at 91 years old is still making movies, both as an actor and director. He is still able to be a compelling storyteller with a keen eye as evident by 2019’s Richard Jewell. But if Eastwood’s latest film Cry Macho is any indication, his best days might be behind him, especially as an actor. The neo-Western drama is a mess in nearly every aspect, from a disaster of a script to wooden performances. Eastwood is not the action hero leading man he was in his younger years, despite Cry Macho’s obvious attempts to make Eastwood the all-encompassing savior. In the end, there’s little worth saving anyway.


Cry Macho follows an old retired and washed up rodeo cowboy Mike (Clint Eastwood) as he is hired for one last job to travel across the border to Texas and “retrieve” his former boss’s son who lives with his mother. When he arrives south of the border, he finds Rafo (Eduardo Minett) at the local cockfighting ring with his rooster Macho. After convincing the boy to come with him to the States to see his father, the two travel back to the border but must evade the Federales and henchmen sent by Rafo’s mother to keep him from leaving. 


The film is based on a novel written by N. Richard Nash which was originally a screenplay but failed to find any buyers so Nash adapted it into a book. That right there says a lot about the quality of the plot. Everything about the film feels empty and half-assed, partly because there’s only so much that Clint Eastwood can do at his age nowadays. It’s simply a matter of fact that he isn’t the action hero he once was yet Cry Macho has him chasing after people, getting into fights, crashes, and all sorts of mayhem as he attempts to reunite this kid with his father. The film attempts to do its best to mask Eastwood’s inability to do some of these stunts, but there’s only so much the camera can hide. It’s not just Eastwood, either. The majority of actors just seem like they’re going through the motions all throughout the film.


At one point, Eastwood gets into a scuffle outside of a restaurant, which leads to a bigger brawl between a group of Mexican workers. The whole thing plays out like everyone is half asleep. Hits don’t land with any impact and the motions and camera work is so slow that you can clearly see the large gaps when characters pull their punches. It’s as if a rehearsal shot somehow made it into the film because that was the best they could do.


Other aspects of Cry Macho don’t fare much better. Characters are practically skeletons, with the bare minimum of attention given to developing them in any sort of convincing manner, as if the filmmakers just decided to do whatever is necessary for any given situation as strange or ill-fitting it might seem. Rafo’s mother Leta (Fernanda Urrejola) is the worst offender. She initially doesn’t care if Mike takes Rafo to the States, telling him that if he can find him he can have him. And yet she then sends her henchmen to follow him and even tries to sleep with him, in what’s either a disturbing fantasy or sick joke; the scene is done so woefully I honestly can’t tell which it is. Mike, Rafo, and his father are all equally confusing as well, and their motivations are poorly established. Mike calls his former boss a good man, but the only thing we’ve seen him do is fire Mike and then come begging him for this favor years later. The only character worth caring about is Marta (Natalia Traven), a restaurant owner who takes Mike and Rafo in while they’re hiding from the Federales.


Towards the middle of the film, Mike and Rafo hunker down in a small town where they meet Marta, who feeds them and keeps them safe. Days turn into weeks and the two start to feel a part of the community, helping care for animals and break in wild horses. This is the only part where taking things slowly actually benefits the film. It’s not perfect, but it’s miles ahead of the story that bookends it.


To be honest, I don’t think Cry Macho would have been much better with someone more capable in the leading role or even a different director behind the camera. The film is built on a broken foundation. There’s only so much patchwork you can do before it all comes tumbling down. Clint Eastwood probably couldn’t have saved it even if he was in his prime, let alone now.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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