January 2, 2009
Review - " Gran Torino " (in Theaters) - By Roland Hansen
For comments or to submit a movie review for possible inclusion on Delta Films site
please send an email to Critics@deltafilms.net
“Gran Torino” (Warner Brothers)
Directed by : Clint Eastwood
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Cory Hardrict, Brian Haley, Brian Howe,
Dreama Walker, Christopher Carley
Clint Eastwood is known for playing the classic antihero that we all love in Gran Torino
he's no different. Eastwood redefines what it is to be a grumpy old man here with his
trademark Dirty Harry snarl & grunts.
Walt Kowalski is a marine veteran, a retired auto worker and an unapologetic bigot. Who
just lost his wife while his discontent for society grows stronger so does his alienation from
a world literally becoming foreign. Walt spends his time tending his house in a Detroit
suburb, drinking beers, and cleaning his most treasured posession a vintage 72 Gran
Torino which he helped assemble at Ford plant where he used to work.
He’s the only white man in a neighborhood filled with Asians, Hispanics, & African Americans. Walt hates all, he despises his
own family as much as the trash (as he puts it) that pollute his street. He has a less than cordial relationship with the Asian
family next door, and it becomes even colder when the son, Thao (Bee Vang), attempts to steal Walt's 1972 Gran Torino as
part of a gang initiation. He fails when Walt shows up with a rifle. Later, when the gang members arrive to give Thao a
"second chance" and a fight breaks out, Walt and his rifle are again on hand and he drives the gang-bangers off. This
results in Walt playing the role of reluctant hero. To save their family's honor the youngster is required to work for Walt
doing odd jobs and they form an unlikely bond. Walt comes to realize that Thao will never be safe as long as the gang is
around. The storyline is predictable the characters all too familiar but you can’t help to watch Eastwood's charisma he
radiates on film and is very believable in this character. Walt speaks in bigoted and harsh remarks but there is never any
doubt as to whether or not there is a heart inside his lanky frame. This knowledge along with the humane essence
Eastwood gives to the character adds to the enjoyment of the film. Also outstanding in the cast are Bee Vang as the
harassed Thao and Ahney Her as his sister Sue. These two young actors relate substantively to Eastwood’s character and
give the movie its poignancy and heart.
Gran Torino is Eastwood's hell-raising salute to every hardass he's ever played. Cranky Walt often communicates in a
growl that sounds like a demon in need of an exorcist. When Walt confronts some hoods playing grabass with Sue: "Ever
notice how you come across somebody once in a while that you shouldn't have messed with? That's me." And that "me"
isn't just Walt. It's the Man With No Name taking aim in those spaghetti Westerns. It's Dirty Harry Callahan asking, "Do you
feel lucky, punk?" It's William Munny, from Unforgiven, digging deep to note, "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. You take
away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have." It's even Frankie Dunn, the fight manager from Million Dollar Baby, who
knows "tough ain't enough."Tough has never been enough for Eastwood. It's a credit to the film's twist ending that Walt
exorcises his demons without easy violence or bogus redemption. A lifetime in movies runs through this prime vintage
Eastwood performance. You can't take your eyes off him. The no-frills, no-bull Gran Torino made my day.
The film gets points for its unconventional resolution, which I will not disclose here. Suffice it to say that this is a rare movie
that doesn't implode during the last reel, the filmmaking team obviously put some thought into the best way to construct the
conclusion. There are some emotional moments and tears are not necessarily inappropriate.
“Gran Torino” is a totally satisfying movie. It has
an absorbing plot, strong acting, and a musical
score that is also pure Eastwood (hell he even
sings over the closing credits). If you want a night
at the movies that will provide you entertainment
from beginning to end then go see “Gran Torino.”