Somebody once proposed putting Ronald Reagan’s photogenic puss up on Mount Rushmore. If they did, I’d have to sneak up there in the dead of night, like Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau in North by Northwest, and either blow up his loathsome face, or else dump a ton of free-market, union-busting chickenshit down over it. If anybody’s face ought to be up there it should be, in my opinion … Clint Eastwood! Not that I agree with his politics—though I suspect he’s someone I could cordially disagree with, that endangered species, an ethical Republican—but, I mean, just look at him! You’d not have to blast too much rock away to chisel out his face. That squint, the slight curl of that upper lip, the crags of his brows … even at 78, with something of a turkey neck, he’s the absolute picture of somebody you do not want to fuck with.
We all knew he was a hell of an actor—not versatile, but who needs versatility when you can do Clint to 1000% perfection?—but in the last 20 years he’s turned into one of our best directors, with only a few duds like Space Cowboys. Actually, his good work goes beyond that, all the way back to Play Misty For Me. It’s reached the point now that I’ll go see anything with his name on it, whether he’s in it or not.
He’s very much in this one, and in fact the movie probably wouldn’t exist but for his presence in it, as he’s the only conceivable living actor who could make the rather unlikely story work. It’s not his best, but it is satisfying, and surprising. You think you’re going to be seeing just another story of revenge against great injustice, but there’s a lot more going on here, as the ending is exactly right for the story. And how rare is that? Mostly it’s just a pleasure to see him working again. The man can growl, almost subliminally, and make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. I repeat, you do not want to fuck with this man!