Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Archie Bunker meets Dirty Harry. These may be dated references but they are American icons and so is Clint Eastwood. More occupied in directing (including this one) than acting, this may be Mr. Eastwood's acting swansong. If so, he goes out on top with an Oscar worthy performance as Walt kowalski, a cranky, bigoted Korean War veteran.
Walt is a combination Archie, Harry and some William Munny thrown in too. The film opens with the funeral of his wife and we quickly learn this is a man living with past demons in a modern world not to his liking. Walt could easily have been played over the top but Mr. Eastwood has tight control on the character and the layers come away ever so slowly.
The Asian family next door set off a series of events that reluctantly begin to involve Walt and while the racial slurs fly, he slowly comes around to his new neighbors.
The gang that terrorizes the family are stereotypical but a necessary evil to further the story. While you may think you know where it's going, you just may be surprised.