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on December 26, 2008
Throughout his illustrious acting career, Clint Eastwood has delivered a series of iconic characters, such as The Man with no name, Dirty Harry, Josie Wales, and Will Munny in Unforgiven.

Throughout his illustrious directing career he has delivered outstanding movies such as Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby, for which he has won five Academy Awards, for best Picture, Best Director, and including the Irving Thalberg Life Achievement Award.

The actors who have worked with him have been blessed with Oscar: Gene Hackman for Unforgiven, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn for Mystic River, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby.

In Gran Torino he both directs and acts, and delivers an acting performance that will be remembered long after the final credits roll, in its unique way, as memorable as any other character he has created.

Gran Torino is the second best movie I have seen this year. Not just for the acting, not just for the directing, but for the storytelling, and the emotional journey on which it takes you, the laughter, the feeling of being gripped, and its more surprising moments.

In the opening scenes, we have the exposition of the character. We get to know Walt Kowalski, by how people act around him, and his seemingly hateful attitude towards people. More is conveyed through a scowl, and a snarl than with words. When the mischievous grandchildren go through his stuff in the basement, we see the Silver Star he won in Korea. There are three other important symbols in the movie, the lighter, the gun, and the car.

We see a hero with a warrior past, a patriot who fought for a cause greater than himself. Clearly, his bigotry stems from those experiences.

He's not just mean, he's 'get of my lawn' mean. He's Dirty Harry 'Go ahead punk, make my day!,' mean.

His dead wife's priest bugs him to hear his confession, at her request. The priest in a way is his wife's conscience.

When he snarls down the barrel of his rifle, at the neighborhood punk: 'I could blow your head off, and sleep like a baby,' you get the sense that he means it.

So, with all that happens, we see the change in his decision making, from someone reluctant to be involved in his neighbor's affairs, and a story can turn on something as random as looking at an empty beer cooler.

For all his faults, Walt has mature masculine character. Even though he is a difficult father, he has taught his children character. So, when he sees the boy next door lacks character, and a strong male role model, he takes him under his wing, and teaches him how to be a man.

The scenes where the boy practises Walt's high octane ball busting banter, are the funniest in the movie. Through knowing Walt, he makes decisions he never would have made by himself. In so doing, Walt finds meaning and purpose, and a chance for redemption, and the boy becomes a man.

The Academy's actor awards tend to go to actors in two types of role:

1.Psychopath- No Country for Old Men, The Usual Suspects, There Will Be Blood, Training Day, Silence of the Lambs.

2.Mentally Disabled, Social or Physical Handicap, overcomes great adversity or discrimination- Shine, As Good as It Gets, A Beautiful Mind, Ray, Scent of a Woman, Capote, Philadelphia, The Pianist, A Beautiful Life.

Every rule has an exception. Russell Crowe in Gladiator played a character with thematic similarities to Walt.

For a 78 year old man to direct and be lead actor in a movie of this caliber is an achievement worthy at the very least of being nominated for the highest award for Acting, Directing or both.

I hope you find this review helpful.
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on January 13, 2017
surprise great movie. heard of it when it was first released, but don't go to movies much. it was a choice on a long overseas flight and i watched it.
i roared with laughter at many parts. why? non pc elderly white male that does no longer fit in with life as it is in present day detroit michigan meets a neighborhood crying for peace and justice. he provides it, but just wants to be left alone. it is sad, and yet a very happy movie about life.
starts with a funeral. ends with a funeral. man helping man. it just feels right. damn the torpedoes, wally does it .
all roles are well developed by the finish. the finish is predictably good.
well directed and well acted. i have seen it a few times since the first visit. five stars.
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on March 23, 2017
I love this movie on so many levels. First he is a veteran. Seond he has lost his wife and his children are not really around at all. He spent his life working to support the family and did not make relationships. However his children took that support and did not make a relationship either. His neighborhood is changing and yet he maintains his home as if his wife were still there. He eventually crates a relationship with two young neighbors that is what relationships are all about. Most of all once he finds that he is dying he gives his life for those neighbors freedom from persecution by a nasty gang. No greater love. Meanwhile his family is greedy for his original Ford Gran Torino. Realistic in family dynamics today especially the part of vultures after the funeral. The kind of family that cannot be bothered unless they want something while you are alive and right there to shop through your belongings at death. Well acted.
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on December 21, 2013
THE STORY: Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), an elderly white man retired from Ford Motors and living comfortably (if cantankerously) in a quiet Detroit suburb, finds his life suddenly changed forever in ways he couldn't possibly have imagined following the passing of his wife. Alone and estranged from his self-absorbed children (and their even more obnoxious kids), in whom he finds nothing but disappointment, Walt's only source of human interaction (outside of a couple of hours from time to time spent at a neighborhood bar drinking with his fellow retirees), comes in the form of a young teenage boy who's moved into the neighborhood along with his immigrant family from Vietnam. Predictably, Walt Kowalski is anything but pleased to see his concept of the perfect world shattered by a people he does not understand and, in all honesty, simply doesn't really want to understand, for it's far easier to stay in one's shell and remain blissfully ignorant. Turns out old Walt may have as much to learn about himself as he does about his new Hmong neighbors. Bitter at the loss of his wife, estranged from his family and facing life alone now in his twilight years, the widowed Korean War vet is forced to confront his own ingrained prejudices and try to come to terms with the changing face of his neighborhood, his country and, ultimately, himself. He's about to have his eyes opened wide and discover that it's never too late to change.

THOUGHTS: Some reviewers really want to hate on the racist attitude of Clint's character but I gotta to tell you, my mother's side of the family hails from the deep south and that's exactly how a lot of folks from that older WWII generation talk, like it or not. I don't think they really realize how bigoted they sound or come across; many aren't really even particularly hateful or racist, that's just the way they learned to talk growing up, and oftentimes it can be very difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. I love Eastwood's Walt character and it was a treat to see the cranky grump growing even in the twilight of his years, to become a better, more accepting person. Sadly, many won't be able to get past the crudeness of Walt Kowalski's harsh, racially-tinged blue language and his seemingly close-minded, resentful attitude, but being exposed to some of that myself, I can easily look past the gruff facade and see the good heart within. If all you can see is a bigot who uses racial slurs then you're really not seeing anything. Walt reminds me a lot of Archie Bunker. In fact I think those two would've gotten along famously if they'd been neighbors. I saw through Walt's gruff exterior and found a touching message in his story, and I have to admit I got choked up in a couple of scenes and outright bawled like a baby at the end. I honestly NEVER thought I'd ever say that about a Clint Eastwood movie! LOL.

THE DVD: Everything on this widescreen DVD release looks very good, which is to be expected with a new movie. Colors, sharpness and audio mix are all strong and consistent. Not much in the way of bonus features, which is a disappointment, but it's the movie itself that makes this purchase worthwhile. Another powerful performance from a genuine screen legend. 5 STARS.
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on January 14, 2012
Originally posted January 2009. Original review 810 helpful votes out of 865. Original review deleted by Amazon, along with 100 other reviews of Gran Torino.

Throughout his illustrious acting career, Clint Eastwood has delivered a series of iconic characters, such as The Man with no name, Dirty Harry, Josie Wales, and Will Munny in Unforgiven.

Throughout his illustrious directing career he has delivered outstanding movies such as Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby, for which he has won five Academy Awards, for best Picture, Best Director, and including the Irving Thalberg Life Achievement Award.

The actors who have worked with him have been blessed with Oscar: Gene Hackman for Unforgiven, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn for Mystic River, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby.

In Gran Torino he both directs and acts, and delivers an acting performance that will be remembered long after the final credits roll, in its unique way, as memorable as any other character he has created.

Gran Torino is the second best movie I have seen this year. Not just for the acting, not just for the directing, but for the storytelling, and the emotional journey on which it takes you, the laughter, the feeling of being gripped, and its more surprising moments.

In the opening scenes, we have the exposition of the character. We get to know Walt Kowalski, by how people act around him, and his seemingly hateful attitude towards people. More is conveyed through a scowl, and a snarl than with words. When the mischievous grandchildren go through his stuff in the basement, we see the Silver Star he won in Korea. There are three other important symbols in the movie, the lighter, the gun, and the car.

We see a hero with a warrior past, a patriot who fought for a cause greater than himself. Clearly, his bigotry stems from those experiences.

He's not just mean, he's 'get of my lawn' mean. He's Dirty Harry 'Go ahead punk, make my day!,' mean.

His dead wife's priest bugs him to hear his confession, at her request. The priest in a way is his wife's conscience.

When he snarls down the barrel of his rifle, at the neighborhood punk: 'I could blow your head off, and sleep like a baby,' you get the sense that he means it.

So, with all that happens, we see the change in his decision making, from someone reluctant to be involved in his neighbor's affairs, and a story can turn on something as random as looking at an empty beer cooler.

For all his faults, Walt has mature masculine character. Even though he is a difficult father, he has taught his children character. So, when he sees the boy next door lacks character, and a strong male role model, he takes him under his wing, and teaches him how to be a man.

The scenes where the boy practises Walt's high octane ball busting banter, are the funniest in the movie. Through knowing Walt, he makes decisions he never would have made by himself. In so doing, Walt finds meaning and purpose, and a chance for redemption, and the boy becomes a man.

The Academy's actor awards tend to go to actors in two types of role:

1.Psychopath- No Country for Old Men, The Usual Suspects, There Will Be Blood, Training Day, Silence of the Lambs.

2.Mentally Disabled, Social or Physical Handicap, overcomes great adversity or discrimination- Shine, As Good as It Gets, A Beautiful Mind, Ray, Scent of a Woman, Capote, Philadelphia, The Pianist, A Beautiful Life.

Every rule has an exception. Russell Crowe in Gladiator played a character with thematic similarities to Walt.

For a 78 year old man to direct and be lead actor in a movie of this caliber is an achievement worthy at the very least of being nominated for the highest award for Acting, Directing or both.

I hope you find this review helpful.
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on June 9, 2013
My dad was taken with this movie when he watched it on cable TV, so I decided to give it a shot. It was not surprising to me that he liked it; lead character Walt Kowalski's (Eastwood) love of tools and respect for hard work is right up his alley. A Hmong family moves in next door to Kowalski, and while he at first wants nothing to do with them, due to his distrust of other races, he is drawn into their world, and becomes a mentor to an awkward teenage boy in the family. Ultimately he gets involved with helping the boy stand up to the Hmong gang that is terrorizing him. Kowalski's efforts to teach the kid how to be a regular guy, Detroit working-class style, are a bit jarringly corny, but the drama builds engrossingly. Ultimately we wind up with a religious message, which could be off-putting, but comes across as real and inevitable. Ahney Her deserves special mention as the boy's sister Sue, a very intelligent teen who has adapted well to the U.S., can relate to Kowalski and is primarily responsible for bringing him round. She is so likable. Hope we'll see more of her somewhere.
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on October 12, 2010
This is your typical Clint Eastwood character--this time Walt Kowalski--but with a twist. He comes off as the rough, cantankerous, "do not bother me" and "do not bother with me" loner that he is so good at portraying. His neighborhood has changed. He seems heartless in his bigotry and downright mean in his sarcastic and cynical interactions with others, not only his neighbors, but the young local priest. Even any signs of affection, he might show, come off as crude and vulgar. Don't however, let that sway you.

It's a great movie. I put it up there with his best.

As usual, he helps the underdog, fights against injustice, does the heroic, and becomes the winner--but this time he does it in a different way. All the "crap" he spews is just a smokescreen for the love this character can really issue forth. He winds up doing it in a big way. He lives out the Two Great Commandments: "No greater love ...!" I do not want to spoil the ending in any way. That has to do with the car too!

My suggestion: don't let the language and the slurs deter you. They are all part of what makes this real. A real alcoholic oozing with venom for a variety of life issues that feed the disease could not do better. Like I tell people about "Good Will Hunting"--the language may be very offensive, but it's a real part of the movie. Bear with it and you will not regret it.

I have loved Clint Eastwood's acting. I now love his directing. This movie provides a special bonus: you get both!
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on April 9, 2011
How can you not like Clint Eastwood? He is such a talented and gifted actor/director who continues getting better with age. Lets face it, he's no spring chicken and considered by some a little crusty around the edges, but this guy has endured the gift of time. Gran Torino is an excellent movie on many different levels. I am drawn to the movie because my family used to own a gran torino when I started driving. I really loved that car. I am also impressed with the fact that this movie is not "Politically Correct"; of coures I am talking about that term of endearment used in the movie: "Zipperhead". Political Correctness is killing this country. No one in this country can have an opinion or say anything without hurting someones elses feelings. Get a grip people! This is America where one has freedom of speech. The founding fathers said nothing about "PC", expressed or implied. I am further drawn to this movie bcause I am a veteran and proudly served this great country. I still remember the oath I took on induction day and how powerful those words were, especially the part about supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States. None the less, if you are one who enjoys well written/performed movie entertainment,blended with today's harsh realities including racial overtones, gang violence, and peer pressure interwoven with a comical yet meaningful bond between an old, slowly dying war veteran and his Southeast Asian neighbors next door, then you will enjoy this movie. By the same token, if you are Politically Correct there is agood chance you will not be able to get past the term Zipperhead, and therefore miss out on a great plot and storyline. This is agreat movie!
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on February 1, 2010
It's my understanding that Clint Eastwood intends to "hang up his spurs" as far as acting goes. Not that anyone could possibly blame him. This film the best I've seen in quite some time. Other reviewers talked about the bigotry but I see it more as diversity & cultural misunderstanding & how it can be overcome given the opportunity. It also shows that our country is changing rapidly & will probably never be the same.

I learned a lot about the Hmong people that I wasn't aware of before, it even made me do a little more research about them. They are an amazing culture. I like the fact that most of the actors were native Hmong which gave the film a sense of realism, as well as the fact that it was filmed "on location" as opposed to Hollywood. All of the casting was superior.

I have noticed a lot of thinly veiled references to many of Mr. Eastwood's prior films in this one which I found very amusing. I'd swear that "Daisy" is the same dog from "Outlaw Josey Wales" (gladly he didn't spit on her head - but the scene with Grandma was priceless!) The relationship with Grandma seemed familiar (even though she didn't speak English) to Granny from "Outlaw" (mutual tolerance). There was also some "tobacco-spitting" included). It seemed like some of the character from "Heartbreak Ridge" was in Walt, just maybe later in life. There might have been a small amount of "Dirty Harry" in there as well. Watch it & I think you'll see what I'm talking about.

Even though there is a lot of sadness in this film, there is also an abundance of classic humor as well. The way Walt used "Toad" to pay back his "debt" was priceless ("wasp nest, now that's terrible")! The barbershop scene was also great!

The scene in the basement (during the party) begs the question: What does it say about our society when an 80 year old terminally ill man has to level a dryer when there is a room full of young able bodied young men watching him do it? Where will we be when there aren't any more "Walt's" left?

This film also depicts a lot of the problems that our own culture has (family interaction, etc.) It was really disgusting the way that Walt's family treated him but sadly it's too commonplace these days.

Every time I watch this film it makes me sad that it will most likely be the last time we'll see Mr. Eastwood in front of the camera... Every time I watch the movie I feel that he's trying to tell us something more (about himself personally?). If you are a are a fan of Mr. Eastwood (or even if you're not) this is a "Must See" movie... I would give it more than 5 stars if I could!
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on April 28, 2014
Clint Eastwood portrays a grumpy aging man who doesn't like how his city is turning out as he gets older. However the movie shows not everything or everyone is as bad as it may seem. He becomes good friends with his neighbors and their friends when he assumed they were worthless at first. There is a lot of cussing and foul language in this film but if you can overlook that and see the message in the film you will enjoy it. The relationship Clint and the young man, Clint's neighbor, develop is brought along very well.
One part in the film I enjoyed was when his neighbors were continually bringing food to his home to show appreciation for his kindness. Clint at first tries to shoo them away because so much food has already been given to him. He then discovers one of the dishes is something that he really likes, the result is he allows them to come in his house. That is a funny part.
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