The Gran Torino that sits in the garage of Walt Kowalski is much more than just a cool car. This is an immaculate symbol of everything that Walt is proud of. In fact, Walt even worked at the Ford factory and installed the steering column into the car that is his pride and joy. But more importantly, the Gran Torino is American and from a time when America was great. Or at least that's how this seething patriot sees things.
But, Walt's world changes dramatically when after fifty years of marriage his wife dies. Now facing the world on his own terms, he passes his time sitting on his porch surveying the neighborhood. A neighborhood that has changed dramatically from when Walt and his wife set up home there. Walt doesn't like what he sees, surrounded by Asian families and violent gangs.
However, Walt does warm to the Asian family next door and turns his attention to mentoring the young man of the house. The same young man who attempted to steal Walt's, Gran Torino. Yet, Walt is helping steer Thao away from gang life and pushing him onto the correct path. Walt's new acceptance through his strengthening relationship with his neighbors opens up a new focus. But, when a series of attacks on the family by the local Asian gang goes too far, Walt can not take it any longer. What will he do and how can he turn things around for his newfound friends.
It's fair to say that Gran Torino, is a much more complex film than it first appears. This is, without doubt, one of Clint Eastwood's finest films. Eastwood stars as Walt Kowalski and also directed Gran Torino. Using his signature no-nonsense unflinching directorial style, he tackles racism, tolerance, and acceptance head-on in this powerful story of redemption. But he also makes the whole thing look simple, which is exactly why Gran Torino is a true masterclass from one of the finest directors around.
On top of that, his portrayal of Walt is outstanding. For me there a few actors that could have got away with the constant bigoted content that growls from the character. Eastwood's deft skills result in a convincing yet endearing connection to a brutally abrasive man. Yes, it's hard not to see his iconic Dirty Harry character bubbling up in Walt Kowalski, but that works incredibly well. The other notable performances come from Bee Vang cast as Thao, Ahney Her as Thao's Sister. Then there is Christopher Carley, who gives a powerful performance as the Catholic Priest who promised Walt's wife that he would watch over him. The profound standoff between these two characters is one of the strongest focuses in Gran Torino and Carley bounces off Eastwood brilliantly.
All in all, Gran Torino is a real gem of a movie, a true classic. The kind of film that everyone should see regardless of if you are a fan of Clint Eastwood or not. A bold and powerful drama that's entertaining but also teaches us important values. Gran Torino is strongly recommended, available to watch on Amazon Prime now.