Not all of Clint Eastwood’s recent films are massive smash hits.
For me, that isn’t the point.
“Gran Torino” (2008) and “The Mule” (2018) obviously don’t sniff Clint’s Western masterpieces or the Dirty Harry franchise.
Plucky old Clint Eastwood will take on a challenge that’s seemingly too big for him at his age.
In “Gran Torino,” it was coming out of a narrow-minded shell to mentor a Hmong boy and learn about his family.
“The Mule” (based on Sam Dolnick’s 2014 New York Times article, “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule”) had Eastwood portraying 90-year-old horticulturalist Earl Stone, who ran drugs for the cartel before going to prison. Wild, but based on a true story.
In this case, it’s Clint’s job to rescue his former rodeo boss (Dwight Yoakam)’s son from Mexico and bring him back home safely. It almost feels like an unofficial, elderly man / action / drama trilogy.
He’ll power through, or adapt, and gain some new perspective. I’m guessing there’s a chance he doesn’t make it to the end. (I haven’t read the book, so don’t say I spoiled something).
Again, the formula’s potential predictability isn’t a knock I’ll hold against this film, if it does play out that way. Because just seeing Clint Eastwood still snarl and deliver prickly one-liners on a screen is worth the price of admission (or streaming) for me.
You know Dwight Yoakam will bring a little extra something to his role as a greasy rodeo boss, too. I really can’t wait to see the scenes that feature him and Eastwood trading verbal blows.
Clint Eastwood: Back to ‘Macho’
Eastwood originally considered the role of tattered, has-been rodeo star Mike Milo – who’s 38 years old in Richard N. Nash’s 1975 book – in the late 80’s. He opted to appear as Dirty Harry again in ‘Dead Pool’ instead, and the project went back on the shelf.
Arnold Schwarzenegger even had an opportunity to portray Milo in the film adaptation after he finished Governating. An Austrian rodeo action hero is something I’m always front and center for, but obviously, it never materialized.
So here we are. Clint Eastwood, at 91, will portray a character written to be 38 years old. I don’t believe Eastwood expects us to suspend our disbelief – he’s just re-working the source text and revisiting an old role.
That’s an incredible aspect of this film, and this story. It’s going to be over an hour of Clint Eastwood grimacing and groaning and cussing in a cowboy hat against painted desert skies. That just feels right, even if the character isn’t exactly what Nash envisioned.
If you’re getting hung up on that, well, you know what I’m gonna say.
That ain’t the point.