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Home Reviews Cinema Gran Torino
Gran Torino Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 12:01
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley
Certificate: 15

“Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn't have fucked with? That's me.” Meet Walt Kowalski (Eastwood), the grouchiest war veteran you’ll ever come across. “Get off my lawn,” he snarls, wide-eyed and nasty, at the local youths. The trouble is they’re all ‘gooks’, ‘spooks’ and ‘zipperheads’. And he hates them all, lumping the neighbouring Hmong family in with the Koreans he once fought in the war. Forget Dirty Harry, this is racist Clint in his final performance. And he’s milking it for every last drop.

As Walt patrols the streets in his beaten up Ford pickup (a real, American car bought “right off the line”), it’s only a matter of time before he threatens another Johnny Foreigner. You can practically count the seconds until he draws his gun again. Pretty soon he draws it on Thao (Bee Vang), the bookish boy next door. That leads to getting to know his sister, Sue (Ahney Her), too. Sure enough, it’s the start of a life-affirming friendship that shows Walt what the world is really like. Aww.

A clichéd creation, Gran Torino suffers from its familiar formula and occasionally fudged acting – from the youngsters, you understand. Not Clint. Oh no. Eyes squinting, temper ablaze, Walt is wonderful to watch; even as he mellows, he remains consistently laugh out loud funny. Especially when he teaches Thao (or “Toad”) how to talk like a man.

Nick Schenk’s screenplay may be derivative, with its philosophical clashes between Walt and the baby-faced Father Janovich (Carley), but when it comes to his inevitable departure, it’s hard not to be moved. That’s the mark of a really great actor. As he growls the theme tune over the end credits, it’s a pleasure to witness the departure of a true Hollywood legend.


Not the director’s best, but it’s a treat to see Clint in front of the camera one last time. The good news? He’s not through with cinema yet.


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