Walt Kowalski(Clint Eastwood) organizes his wife’s funeral. Walt leads a retired life in Michigan after working for Ford and also serving in the Army during the Korean war. He has prejudices and is a difficult man to talk to because of his foul mouth. Unknown to others, his health is deteriorating.
His sons, Mitch(Brian Haley) and Steve, lives away from Walt and dreads interacting with him. But, they are concerned about his life in the old house without their mom. The neighborhood is becoming dangerous to live in. Walt will be the only remaining white in a community dominated by Asian immigrants.
After the funeral, Walt’s grandchildren invade his garage to find the war memorabilia and a vintage car, Gran Torino. The oldest granddaughter asks for the Gran Torino and is met with harsh criticism from Walt.
Father Janovich(Christopher Carley) visits Walt and requests him to attend church. But, Walt sends him away after rebuking him. Walt had attended the church for his late wife and does not regard God or the church in high esteem. Father Janovich is not easily dissuaded and keeps coming back.
The house adjoining Walt’s is inhabited by Hmong family. There are two teenagers in the family – Sue and Thao(Bee Vang), her brother. While Sue is an extrovert, Thao is an introvert. Thao is forced to join an Asian gang. As the initiation process, Thao has to steal Walt’s Gran Torino. Although Walt thwarts the burglary, Thao escapes.
Later, when Thao gets into trouble with the gang, Walt saves Thao and his family. As a result, the Hmong neighborhood put gifts on his doorsteps as a token of respect. Soon, Walt again saves Sue from being attacked by three dangerous guys. In the first instance, the fight had moved to his lawn and he wanted all of them out of his lawn. In the second instance, Walt weighs the option of driving away before he intervenes.
Sue and Walt becomes friends. Walt is invited for a Hmong party at Sue’s place. For the first time in his life, Walt throws away his prejudices and tries to find a common link with his neighbors. He also starts mentoring Thao to become a man.
But, Walt unleashes a torrent of events that alters the lives of Sue and Thao violently. The rest of the movie depicts how Walt secures their future in the neighborhood.
Clint Eastwood directs and acts in this movie. At 79, Clint has become a seasoned storyteller. He finds scripts with deep emotional quotient. This movie relies on performances and it is Clint’s show all the way. Walt is alone and aging. But, he never asks for help. It is difficult to watch this movie without drawing parallels from Clint’s successful onscreen roles. Walt is an aging Dirty Harry with prejudices. Eventually, he finds peace with himself and learns to adapt. You can still see the calm and cool posture of the Man with No Name before the gunfight. Now, there is a slight hunchback due to old age.
Though I wish Clint does not retire anytime in the future, this movie is a ideal way to bid “Good bye” to acting roles. This is a must see for fans.
Picture Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies