Gran Torino starts out like a Sanatogen fuelled reworking of Dirty Harry, with a constantly growling Clint Eastwood waving guns around and attempting to replace ‘Do you feel lucky?’ with the rather more prosaic ‘Get off my lawn!’. Give it a chance, however, and it twists its blunt and politically dubious beginnings into an engaging story that manages to mix genuinely warm relationships and surprising humour with tension and an unexpected conclusion.Clint’s grizzled ex-soldier Walt is forced to question his prejudices after seeing the contrasts between his spoilt and obnoxious family and his quietly troubled Hmong neighbours, and Eastwood wrings nuances from the role, ensuring that Walt remains strangely likeable even when indulging his worst instincts, and worryingly vulnerable even when he’s clearly the toughest guy on the screen. Sharply scripted by Nick Shenk, Gran Torino initially rolls out leaden exposition and one-dimensional characters, before polishing them up in full view of the audience, making the film’s seemingly well-worn path feel refreshed. Eastwood’s direction avoids the mistakes of The Changeling, and while there are still some heavy handed moments, Gran Torino is an enjoyable return to form.Meanwhile, if you’re after something equally nuanced but a little more active, check out our game reviews for a look at Fight Night Round 4, EA’s new boxing simulation that mixes innovative controls with realistic physics and addictive online play to create the most enjoyable beat-em-up we’ve ever played. You can watch our full Fight Night Round 4 review here.
DVD REVIEW: Gran Torino
1st July 2009