“Cry Macho” stars acclaimed actor/director/producer Clint Eastwood as Mike Milo, a one-time rodeo star turned widower and washed-up horse wrangler. The film is a poignant tale of two men at opposite ends of life and the lessons they learn and share along the way.
From the first strains of the opening country song to the tight shots of the well-worn rabbit’s foot keychain hanging in his dusty Chevy pickup truck, we see that Mike Milo is at once familiar with his human frailties and relatable with his human failings. He’s likable in that gruff old cowboy way we’ve grown to love and expect from an Eastwood character.
A year after being unceremoniously fired by his boss for being too old, Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam) asks Mike to travel deep into Mexico to bring the man’s thirteen-year-old son back to Texas. “You owe me, Mike,” said Howard. “You gave me your word and that used to mean something, Mike.”
It’s during Mike’s reluctant journey with the young Rafael, played by newcomer Eduardo Minett, through the backroads of Mexico, that we see the unlikely pair face difficulties that bring them each closer to understanding what it really means to be a man. Mike is a world-weary man who has already experienced life with all the loss, sorrow, and joy it has to offer. Rafael is a young man just beginning to learn who he is.
Abandoned by his father and abused by his alcoholic mother’s boyfriends, Rafael trusts no one. On the trip, he brings along the only thing he cares about: his prized fighting rooster. “His name is Macho,” says Rafael, when Mike insists on calling him a chicken. “You know what it means? It means strong, like me. A very strong rooster.”
Forced to learn some hard truths about his father, an angry Rafael tells Mike, “You used to be tough, strong, macho.”
“I used to be a lot of things,” replied Mike, “but I’m not now. It’s like anything else in life. You think you got all the answers. Then you realize as you get older, you don’t have any of ’em.”
“We all have to make choices in life, kid. You have to make yours.”
Frankly, in a time where a lack of integrity is celebrated and masculinity is devalued, “Cry Macho” is a much-needed tale about the value of strong men at all stages of life. We could use a little more of Clint Eastwood and his characters who harken back to a time when integrity mattered and strong men did more than just “cry” macho—they lived it.
“Cry Macho” from Warner Bros. Productions is in theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max on September 17, 2021.