you leave them alone"
When his wife passed
away, Koren War veteran Walt Kowalski (Eastwood) lost the only person who
wanted to be around him. Alienating his two sons and with only his faithful
dog Daisy for company, Walt prepares to see out his days in the house he and
his wife made a home and driving his pride and joy, his 1972 Ford Gran Torino.
The neighbourhood he called home in Detroit was changing however. A large
Hmong community had moved into the area and while he never really had time
for his Asian neighbours he steps in when the local Hmong gang tries to recruit
the young son of family, Thao (Vang) by force. Realising that the boy isn't
like the gang members, he takes it on himself to show Thao how to be a honourable
man but the gang do not take rejection well.
Even at the age of
seventy-nine, Clint Eastwood continues to direct a movie every one or two
years but we haven't seen him on the silver screen since 2004 but now he returns
for what could be his swansong but what a swansong!
For over fifty years,
Clint Eastwood has entertained audiences with a cold stare, an anti-hero persona
and a star quality that is still unmatched. Setting the standard when it came
to the Western, creating the quintessential police officer of the 70s and
80s as Inspector 'Dirty' Harry Callahan and even trying comedy with an orang-utan
called Clyde, Clint Eastwood is the true definition of a Hollywood legend.
Turning his hand to directing in 1971 with 'Play Misty for Me', he has bought
us such classics as 'The Outlaw Josey Wales', 'Pale Rider', 'Heartbreak Ridge',
'Mystic River' and 'Million Dollar Baby', sometimes staying behind the camera
as well as directing himself in front of it. Now as he enters the later years
of his life, he has decided to hang up his acting shoes after one last time
gracing the silver screen in 'Gran Torino'.
As with most of Clint
Eastwood movies, this is a story that is compelling from the off. Based on
a story by Nick Schenk and Dave Johannson, this is the tale of intolerance,
acceptance, gang warfare and forgiveness made all the more powerful, emotional
and even funny by the screen presence of Clint Eastwood. As Walt Kowalski,
it could be easy to mistake his last character as one of this most famous,
creations 'Dirty' Harry Callahan, only retired and living in Detroit. Walt
Kowalski is, in fact, a retired Ford plant worker and former Korean War veteran
who has just lost his wife and now has to contemplate living alone in his
neighbourhood that is now more Asian than anything else. With a Hmong gang
controlling the streets and trying to recruit his young next-door neighbour
Thao, Walt steps in when his property is threatened, only to become more involved
than he would have ever had thought.
At seventy-nine, Clint
still commands the screen and your attention throughout. The similarities
between Walt Kowalski and Dirty Harry might seem a little too obvious but
this doesn't take anything away from the performance or the character. While
some may also argue that the character is a relic of the 70s, with his racist
views on his neighbours and his language and name calling but it is Walt's
outlook and approach to life, even in his latter years that makes the character
realistic and sometimes, unintentionally funny. The supporting cast is a little
bit of a mixed bag however. John Carroll Lynch is very funny as Walt's barber,
Christopher Carley is very good as Walt's wanabe conscience Father Janovich
but it is the two young actors who play the next-door neighbours children.
Ahney Her is very good as Sue Lor, the strong willed Hmong girl who befriends
Walt and draws him into her community. The same can't be said of Bee Vang
as Thao. Both he and Ahney Her have never acted before but while Her shines,
Vang really struggles to play opposite Clint Eastwood, but then again, most
'Gran Torino' is a
fantastic way for Clint Eastwood to sign off his acting career. This is a
movie that will make you laugh, shock you and draw out real emotion by the
end of the exceptional finale. While young Bee Vang might not have enough
screen presence to think he will continue on the big screen, even this can
spoil an exceptional swansong for a true screen legend.
The Blu-Ray disc presents
the movie in High Definition wide screen 2:40 up to 1080p, with Dolby TrueHD
5.1 surround sound.
Behind the Story
Entitled 'The Eastwood Way' and 'Manning the Wheel', these two featurettes
feature contributions from director Clint Eastwood, producers Robert Lorenzo
and Bill Gerber, writer Nick Schenk, editor Joel Cox, casting director Ellen
Chenoweth and stars Christopher Carley, Bee Vang and Ahney Her. They cover
the making of the movie and the importance of the Gran Torino car, as a character
in the movie. Both of these featurettes are well worth watching as they give
you an insight into Clint Eastwood, the filmmaker and star.
Gran Torino: More
than a car (3.57 mins/High Definition)
A look at the American car culture and the importance of the can in the lives
of ordinary people
Please the disc in an Internet enabled Blu-Ray player or PS3 and gain extra
features from the Warner Bros. BD Live service
The Blu-Ray treatment
for 'Gran Torino' is one that fans will enjoy. While the lack of a commentary
track is disappointing, the featurettes are good and offer an insight into
the making of this fine movie.