Misanthropic Korean war veteran Clint Eastwood is dismayed when a Hmong family move in next door, but he learns to respect them when they welcome him into their home after he sees off a local gang who threatened their socially dysfunctional son.
Touted as Clint Eastwood’s farewell performance, this film can best be described as “Grumpy Old Harry”. As Unforgiven was the resurrection and deconstruction of an aged Man With No Name, so Walt Kowalski is for Harry Callahan which makes for a fitting swan song to Eastwood’s career. Its format is the extremely formulaic racist-changes-his-ways-when-he-actually-gets-to-spend-time-with-the-object-of-his-derision that will be familiar to anyone who has endured an afternoon TV movie, but it is of course Eastwood who raises it above the mundane. His dialogue is sharp and witty, portraying Walt as not a despicable racist, but more a relic from the pre-PC age tired of what he sees as meaningless social convention. This is seen for what it is and quickly dismissed by the best supporting character played by Ahney Her and this leads to some nicely pointed social commentary involving – albeit lightweight – racial and cultural politics and the treatment of the elderly in western society.
The plot is rather predictable but Clint is at his most watchable and basically carries the entire film on his lonesome. Only the horrendous closing song – growled by the man himself and *choke* Jamie Cullum – wedged itself firmly in my craw; as a whole Gran Torino is a highly entertaining epilogue to an illustrious carrer.