Review: Gran Torino

Gran Torino
4 Lloyd’s – Not Family-Friendly
Rated R for language throughout and some violence.


Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski who’s a widower, grumpy, tough-minded, borderline-hateful and an overall unhappy old man. He can’t get along with his kids, or his neighbors. But, when he suddenly finds himself unwittingly becoming the hero of his quickly changing neighborhood, he also finds himself dealing with life and death issues, like never before. 

Walt Kowalski knows alot about death, but he’s about to learn a few things about life too.

Kowalski is a Korean War veteran with one prized possession, his 1972 Gran Torino which he keeps in mint condition. When his neighbor tries to steal the car, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth. Drawn against his will into the life of Thao’s family, Kowalski soon finds himself taking steps to protect the family from the gangs of the neighborhood.

This movie is obviously not family-friendly as it carries an R Rating. Gran Torino falls firmly into that rating as well. With rough language throughout, and various scenes of violence, this movie is rated well, and is for the 18 and above crowd.

There’s a lot going on in Gran Torino addressing the time we live in today. Not only do we see streets riddled with violence and gangs, but we also discover teens trying to stay clean. But, life on the streets is hard, and many times those who want to stay clean, find themselves swiming against the stream.

At first I thought this would be a warmed over and redone Dirty Harry scenario. However, the thoughts of Dirty Harry quickly fade as we discover this is a movie about mourning, death, life and cultural tensions. Gran Torino could be described as a movie about redemption, forgiveness and making amends for wrongs done in the past. Aside from mourning the loss of his wife, Kowalski also finds himself dealing with his conscience, trying to find peace with himself.

Clint Eastwood shines in this movie, not only as an actor, but also as a director. While the character of Father Janovich comes off as a great foil for the rough and tough Kowalski character, at times Christopher Carley who plays the Father comes off somewhat stilted and out of place. However, this flaw quickly falls into the background as the characters of Thao and his sister Sue Lor take over the screen. Bee Vang and Ahney Her are cast very well in their roles.

Many family and cultural tensions come to the forefront during the 2 hours of Gran Torino. But, the movie is not boring, and moves along at a rapid, good pace, enabling the viewer to not get lost, and not get bored. I also applaud the scriptwriter for taking on such tensions, head on. At the end of the movie Father Janovich describes Eastwood’s character, Walt Kowalski, as a man who “spoke his mind and held nothing back.” In the end, the same can be said about Gran Torino. This is a movie which speaks its mind on many issues of the day, and holds nothing back.

This is not just a movie filled with violence and tension. Sprinkled throughout, as we get a clear picture of life, we also find the humorous side of life rising to the top from time to time. There’s a nice balance here of action, reality, and fun. Probably the most ingenius aspect of Gran Torino revolves around the fact that while the end is predictable, it’s at the same time, very surprising.

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.