Gran Torino: Crime Never Retires (2009)

Posted: March 24, 2011 in Drama

Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski refuses to give in, even after the loss of his adoring wife. He refuses to let Father Janovich consul him, his sons support him and even allow the neighbors to meet him. When the neighbor boy Thao gets harassed by his cousin, Spider, and dragged out onto the lawn, Walt scares off Spider’s gang. Apprehensive about the gifts provided by the neighborhood for his bravery, he starts to accept the attention after an opportunity to save Thao’s sister, Sue, from another neighborhood gang. As the friendship with Sue grows, he reluctantly agrees to mentor Thao, even after a failed attempt to steal his prized Gran Torino. As he gives purpose to Thao’s life, his appreciation of the family grows, but so does the pressure by Spider’s gang. As the violence escalates, Walt wants to figure out how to save his new friends.

Starring: Clint Eastwood (Walt Kowalski), Christopher Carley (Father Janovich), Bee Vang (Thao), Ahney Her (Sue), Brian Haley (Mitch Kowalski), Geraldine Hughes (Karen Kowalski), Dreama Walker (Ashley Kowalski), Brian Howe (Steve Kowalski), John Carroll Lynch (Barber Martin), Brooke Chia Thao (Vu), Chee Thao (Grandma)

The smokey-voiced Clint Eastwood highlights a man struggling with a combination of a harsh life and a stubborn personality. Weathered by the war and years of anger, Clint’s strong-willed personality translates to someone who only lets people in as long as he maintains control. Christopher Carley serves as the religious support who refuses to allow Walt to give up. Even presenting the age difference between the two men, he maintains a strong showing as being guided by his faith and desire to help someone who simply does not allow himself to accept it. Ahney Her provides a few lighter moments with her clever banter but serves as the connecting force for Walt to allow himself to accept others. Thao, played by Bee Vang, represents the stubbornness of a kid who does not understand the danger he is truly in, but there also seem to be a few moments where he either overreacts or almost seems like he misses a cue.

Clint Eastwood has had a few films where he both acted and directed. In this one, he creates an atmosphere where generational differences and racism entangle with the relationships between family, friends and enemies. Walt has certainly been affected by the actions he took in the Korean War, but other older, White members of the town also appear to have the same offensive banter and perceptions. When teaching Thao how to speak like a man, he tries to instill the same discriminatory comments used between him and his peers. The two rival gangs, while asserting their dominance by brandishing guns, also exhibit a need to insult each other’s identity. Even as Walt becomes open to the Vang Lor family, he still uses derogatory comments and names when interacting with them, especially with Thao. Most of his hatred was reinforced by his tour of service, but he also struggles from being unable to adapt to the environment changing around him.

The struggles presented in this movie make it a compelling story. I would highly recommend this film from an entertainment and retrospective standpoint.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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