Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho marked something of a western comeback for the star, but should his next movie return to the genre again? Cry Macho’s protagonist Mike Milo contrasts with the likes of the Man with No Name in terms of morality, but this difference is what makes the idea of another western featuring Eastwood intriguing. While Eastwood’s film may not have been especially successful, its take on classic western themes like honor and pride is worth further exploration.
Adapted from a novel of the same name, Cry Macho follows retired rodeo star Mike as he travels to Mexico in search of a young man so that he can reunite him with his father in the United States. In the film, Clint Eastwood plays a different kind of cowboy than he has portrayed in the past, trading the stoic gunslinger persona for a more timeworn, melancholic character who seeks redemption. However, the screen icon has shown he could potentially tell an interesting story in his next film by revisiting the genre again.
Eastwood returning to the western genre could allow him to deconstruct the antiheroes whom he has played in past movies even further than he did in Unforgiven. A theme from Cry Macho that is touched upon with its protagonist is the idea of regaining a sense of purpose, primarily through his role as a mentor. Therefore, Eastwood’s next film could delve into how a hero of the Old West navigates life as the world around him changes while passing his knowledge to a younger generation. The concept may be different from most westerns he has starred in, but Clint Eastwood has experience with rejecting genre conventions, considering he had a part in popularizing westerns that were darker and grittier compared to the more adventurous productions by stars like John Wayne.
If Eastwood were to return for another western, he would also have a chance to expand on the ideas presented in Cry Macho. His more recent acting credits have explored characters who grow older while simply trying to do the right thing, such as Gran Torino or The Mule. This idea could be explored by showing Eastwood in a role where he does not portray a gunslinger seeking justice, but a man who maintains the cowboy persona by trying to do right by others while dealing with the passage of time. Rather than focusing on action, he could portray in the film how the themes of honor that have persisted throughout the genre can be upheld by future films.
Of course, instead of more western movies Clint Eastwood may opt to return to the dramas and biopics he’s been focused on in recent times, many of which have been critically well-received. Eastwood has largely steered clear of westerns since 1992’s Unforgiven, which is seen as his masterpiece in the genre, in addition to examining and deconstructing many of its myths. While Cry Macho was a dip of the toe back in the genre, he may be reluctant to fully saddle up again unless he finds a screenplay of the quality of Unforgiven – which is no easy task. That said, it would be great to see him helm one last western that examines the genre from a more modern perspective, as he’d be the perfect filmmaker to re-examine it in a whole new light.