It’s a simple plot, maybe even a little corny: racist old war veteran reluctantly befriends his Korean neighbours and becomes their guardian when the youngest is pressured to join his cousin’s gang. But the simplicity allows Eastwood lots of memorable moments: wisecracking racist slurs, berating his spoilt family, dishing out tough-love advice or threatening local youths with a rifle. His character is the classic Dirty Harry badass and more.
Also, Eastwood displays some great moments of comedy, such as his flustered reaction when his neighbours shower him with flowers and his life lessons on how to talk to guys. Admittedly, at times, his growling, mumbling and grimacing appears like an overplayed self-parody of himself. But whether intentional or not, it’s still pretty damn hilarious.
The laughs are welcome because the film can be dark at times (the son is beaten, the daughter is raped) but it wouldn’t be a Clint Eastwood film if there weren’t bad guys to punish. And the punishment is genius – a twist on the expected Eastwood reaction.
In short, Gran Torino is a fitting last outing for Eastwood’s extensive hit list – a mix-match of your favourite Eastwood characters with some new now-or-never stuff.
Not sure his singing over the closing credits was a good idea though.