There’s a creak of old leather (and other things) in this outrageously dated and hokey sentimental western, made from a script that’s been knocking around the industry for decades; it’s a Swiss cheese of bizarre plot-holes set in 1979, clearly because that is when it was conceived. Only the residual charisma and fascination of its director-star Clint Eastwood keeps it from sinking completely, and only this living legend could get away with asking us to believe that his character is devastatingly attractive to two different younger women, his female co-stars here being 40 and 52.
Eastwood plays Mike, a veteran Texan ranch-hand who lost his wife and son to a car accident and in the first scene gets fired by his grumpy boss Howard (Dwight Yoakam) on account of his subsequent addiction to pills and booze. (We never see any sign of this addiction, and if Mike is supposed to be in recovery, it’s pretty laidback: he enjoys a cold beer in one scene.) Then a year later, this same Howard has evidently revised his opinion of Mike so far as to entrust him with the job of going to Mexico and rescuing Howard’s teenage son Rafo (Eduardo Minett) from his Mexican ex-girlfriend, a kind of mob matriarch whom he believes has let the boy be abused in some nameless way. Mike heads south, gallantly declines a freely offered sexytime experience from Rafo’s raunchy mum Leta (Fernanda Urrejola), finds Rafo with absolute ease at a local cock-fight and so begins the hazardous journey home with Rafo and Rafo’s pet rooster, poignantly named “Macho” (the film’s one intentional irony) while being pursued by Leta’s goons. They have a stopover at a flyblown village where local cafe owner Marta (Natalia Traven) is also clearly smitten by the old cowboy.
And so the movie continues in its absolutely predictable way, with Mike and Rafo getting on like father and son, or rather great-grandfather and great-grandson, with Rafo excited about getting to the US and freedom, while the movie asks us to forget a very strange plot development that implies Howard might send Rafo back again if the price was right. Well, it’s always good to see Eastwood, loping defiantly across the screen.
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