Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho sends a muddled method by both critiquing traditional masculinity and glorifying characters that excel at it
Clint Eastwood’s Cry Machopresents a critique of the machismo typically associated with the Western genre, but this message often feels half-hearted and unconvincing. This message is suggested by the very title, and the film’s trailer prominently features Eastwood saying, “This whole macho thing is overrated.” The roots of the movie’s difficulties lie in its reluctance to depict its heroes as weak or flawed. As a result, while Cry Macho offers masterful direction and acting from Eastwood, the film’s message rings hollow.
Cry Macho stars Eastwood as Mike, an old rodeo star called into action to retrieve his boss’ son Rafo from Mexico. On their long and winding road back to America, Mike tries to dissuade Rafo from living a “macho” life, using his own decrepit state as an example of the emptiness of masculine success. This message makes Cry Macho fit into Eastwood’s Western films, which often critique the standards of the genre and its belief in masculine violence.
One of the main issues is that, in macho terms, Mike is still successful. He can stagger much younger men in fistfights and outdrive the police. Cry Macho has two significant female characters, and both desire the much older Mike, with Leta’s failed attempt to seduce him being the basis of the movie’s conflict. The movie still tries to present its nonagenarian star as an action hero, making its disavowal of macho ideals ring false.