"Gran Torino." - Movie Review.

By Bob Zerull

4 1/2 Stars:

I have to credit my brother and James Hetfield from Metallica for turning me on to Clint Eastwood. My dad would watch "A Fistful of Dollars," "High Plains Drifter," "The Good the Bad and the Ugly" etc etc and I could never tell them apart. They just looked boring to me. I was aware of Clint Eastwood growing up, but I can't say I grew up watching his movies. My first real experience with Clint Eastwood was "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." The reason I saw it, was because of the song "Ecstasy of Gold." I only knew that this song was the song that Metallica walked out on stage to; I didn't realize it was from a movie. I liked the movie, but I still wasn't really into westerns.



When my brother made me watch "High Plains Drifter," that's when I became a fan. That character was such a bad ass. Then again Clint Eastwood is a bad ass. You know what's even crazier? He's probably a better director than actor. "Unforgiven," "Million Dollar Baby," "Mystic River," "Flags of Our Fathers," "Letters Two Iwo Jima," and "Changeling" to name a few. That's quite a track record.

Eastwood is getting up there in age. He's 79 years old. His acting days are probably behind him, but he gave us one last great performance and it completely comes out of left field. Eastwood plays Walt Kowalsi, a Korean War Vet whose wife just passed away. He's not a bad ass anymore; he's a decrepit old man on his last legs. His family feels burden by him and he is disappointed in them. He is retired from Ford, yet his kids are driving Toyotas. He just wants to be left alone with his Pabst Blue Ribbon and jerky.



Enter his new neighbors, the Lors, an Asian family. Walt's always been politically incorrect, but his racial slurs seem to have genuine hate in them when it comes to this family. It's as if he thinks he went to war against these people. That is until teenage neighbor Sue Lor enters his life. She lets his insults bounce off her like they're nothing and builds a friendship with him. Her cousin is the leader of an Asian gang who is bullying her brother Thao Lor. The gang wants Thao to join and forced him to attempt to steal Walt's 1972 Gran Torino.

Walt catches Thao. The Lor's force Walt to allow Thao to pay him back by having him do chores around the house. It's at this point Thao and Walt really bond. Walt starts teaching Thao the secrets of success in this world and hooks him up with a job in construction. The gang hasn't left Thao alone and this forces Walt to get involved.

To avoid spoiling this amazing ending I'm going to stop here. Eastwood's almost 80 years old and we, the audience, are still expecting "Dirty Harry" to come out. I didn't see the ending coming until it started to happen. It was genius. It makes sense and is much more realistic than where I thought they were going. "Gran Torino" is an amazing movie. I highly recommend checking it out. It's Eastwood in a role that you're not used to. He's a good singer too.

BYLINE:

Bob Zerull is a frequent movie and concert goer who talks about his ventures to arenas and theaters more than any person should be allowed to do. Now, he puts them down on paper. Email him your thoughts at: bzerull19@gmail.com.

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