Friday, October 9, 2009

Gran Torino

Gran Torino

Released: 2008
Reviewed: 10.8.09
Star Rating: 4 out of 5

Clint Eastwood (Walt), Christopher Carley (Father Janovich), Bee Vang (Thao), Ahney Her (Sue), John Carroll Lynch (Barber), William Hill (Tim).

Cranky Korean War vet Walt doesn't like his Hmong neighbors nor do they seem to like him much. But when their teenage son Thao tries to steal Walt's prize Gran Torino for a gang initiation they find themselves forced together and Walt's prejudices become quite obvious. While Thao tries to regain his honor and work off his debt, Walt becomes enamored of the family as he tries to protect Sue and Thao.

I would doubt anyone could watch the first ten minutes of this film and guess the ending. We start off with some brief character development giving us Walt's background and explaining his terminal scowl and grumpy demeanor. As the story starts to run with the inclusion of the neighbors the film starts to look a lot like an After School Special. Fortunately Eastwood turns it into a delightfully suspenseful drama that will have you cringing and maybe crying before everything is done.

Acting by Eastwood was excellent as usual and despite being 78 yrs old, he pulled off the tough-guy persona once again. That said, it is getting tougher and tougher to believe him in that type of role. Supporting work was decent enough from Carley, Vang, Her, and Lynch who all seemed to have good energy with Eastwood.

Thankfully special effects were minimal in this film and would have ruined it otherwise. Camera work was nicely done, sets and backgrounds were simple but appropriate, and sound was well done though the soundtrack was a bit flat. Dialogue was good but be warned, extremely racist and vulgar.

Overall this was a nice drama, relevant to modern times, with good acting and a nice action element to keep things moving. Put this toward the top of your Must See list. With some violence and prevalent foul language save this for older teens and above.

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