Clint Eastwood steps back, no make that bangs back in front of the camera for one hell of a role. Eastwood stars as Walt Kowalski in “Gran Torino”, who is a recent widower that seems angry at the World. Walt is a veteran of the Korean War and spends his days and nights watching his neighborhood change. He faces the challenge of accepting his neighbors who are Hmong and also dealing with the violence that has incorporated in the area due to gangs. Walt’s anger boils over when his kid neighbor, Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang) breaks into his garage at an attempt to steal his Gran Torino. Thao is not a bad kid he is just unsure of who he is and does not know where he fits in. After being coerced by his cousin, who happens to be a gang member, Thao decides to steal the Torino for the group of hoodlums. His attempt is foiled when Walt awakes to the disturbance.
Walt immediately is disgusted with Thao, but his sister Sue (Ahney Her) fights for his behalf and tries to explain to Walt that he is not a thief. Thao’s mother begs for Walt to let Thao make up for his mistakes in anyway he can. She allows Thao to work for Walt until he has cleared his conscience of his wrong doing. Walt puts Thao to work in the neighborhood by cleaning things up and helping him out with whatever he needs. Walt eventually softens up on Sue’s behalf and even attends a family BBQ at their home. Walt does not make many friends immediately, but his mannered side begins to shine through as he visits with the family. Walt even eventually befriends Thao.
Over the next few months Thao and Walt become very close friends. Walt gets Thao a job and even lets him borrow his Torino. An unexpected tragedy then occurs that send Thao and Walt into a raging frenzy. Walt is determined to keep Thao safe and out of harms way and to handle things on his own. Walt is a strong and independent being and is a very wise old man. That being said Walt puts a plan into attack and has every intention on following it through to the end.
“Gran Torino” is a tale from an older man’s perspective. The outlook for this bigoted old man who by a series of events opens his mind up to the idea of letting go of the past and acceptance of things for what they are. I am sure many people will be offended by this film, but if you can stick out through the many racist comments in the beginning you will find this film comes full circle. The movie is about educating audiences on being open minded and that if one old man’s view can be changed than perhaps we can have hope for others alike. Clint Eastwood was on top of his game, taking us back to vintage Dirty Harry offering a remarkable performance that had me begging for more. Not only was his handy work on camera, but Eastwood directed this grand film as well. “Gran Torino” will knock your socks off, but be prepared to have some ear bleeding after all the graphic comments and cussing you will hear.