The latest Clint Eastwood directed film takes the former Western star back to his roots in a heart filled Western that has some moments, but suffers from one major problem.
Mike Milo was a former rodeo star and a broken down ranch hand/horse breeder. After he was fired by his boss Howard (Dwight Yoakam), Mike was not sure what was next. However, Howard approached Mike with a job. Go to Mexico and retrieve his 13-year old son, Rafo (Eduardo Minett), who was with his alcoholic mother. As Mike and Rafo traveled to the border, they bond and Mike tried to teach the young boy how to be a good man.
I’m not sure exactly how old Mike is supposed to be in the movie, but Clint Eastwood is 91 years old and shows every second of it. Meanwhile, the film keeps putting Mike into situations that a 91-year old man just can not handle. If this was 20 years earlier, or if the film starred an actor younger, it might not be as distracting, but the fact is, Eastwood just pulled me out of the film.
I mean, Rafo’s mother, Leta (Fernanda Urrejola) basically made a sexual advance on him. Mike met up with a younger Mexican woman Marta (Natalia Traven) who he started to have feeling for, though she looked about 40 years younger than him. He was breaking horses, in a hilarious scene where the camera is far away and then zooms in to see Clint slowly moving around as if he is on the horse. It always appeared as if he was driving 25 miles an hour. These were just a few of the moments that looked awkward because of the age of the actor not fitting what the plot needed him to do.
The idea that Howard would send this old man whom he had just fired off to Mexico to get his son, the main reason being that his son would respect him as a cowboy, made so little sense that it started off as a negative for the film.
It was funny how Eastwood would mumble under his breath out loud just like an old man would. There is a scene with him and some police where Eastwood just constantly mumbled insults out loud without any care of what it may do. Still, it did not matter in the end as that entire scene felt as if it had no purpose in the movie.
The film is directed well, and I really wish Clint would have decided to just be the director instead of directing himself, because I do believe that this film had something to it that could have been stronger with a new lead.
The story needed some refining too, as the character of Howard is either a big time jerk or a man who wanted his son back. But he wanted his son back so he could have some leverage in a business deal with Rafo’s mother. Mike discovered this, but he delivered the boy anyway. The film definitely implied that Howard was not a very good man and that his son may not be in a better situation.
Oh, and Leta had told us, before she was trying to seduce Mike, that Rafo was a huge troublemaker, who was nothing but a problem and someone Mike could have if he could find him. Yet, we never even saw one piece of evidence that this character was anything of the sort. He had a chicken, he named Macho, that he used in cockfights, and he did not have much of a positive opinion about his mother or father, but, again, that changed multiple times in the film.
The film does have heart, but the problems with the script and the lead actor brings the film down. I have seen worse film, but this had the chance to be much better than it is.