Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Gritty Clint Eastwood Drama That's Heating Up On Netflix

Want to hear something crazy? Gran Torino came out 13 years ago. Clint Eastwood has been older than he was in Gran Torino for 13 years. Put another way, Clint Eastwood has spent more than a decade looking old enough to play a guy named Walt Kowalski whose first adjective on Wikipedia is "cantankerous."

The film, which is currently experiencing a second wind on Netflix, follows the aforementioned Kowalski, a veteran and retired blue collar worker living out his golden years in scenic Detroit, Michigan. There are metaphors stacked on metaphors in the Motor City, where an industrial sector that once held so much hope for those willing to put in an honest day's work now stands jut as empty as the promise that the city would one day be protected by RoboCop.

Walt's life is shaken when a neighborhood youth named Thao tries to make off with his beloved muscle car, the eponymous Gran Torino, in an ill-advised gang initiation. Like so many would-be scofflaws throughout movie history, he enters the situation unaware that there's a Clint Eastwood character with a gun at the other end of his shenanigans. With a begrudging understanding that Thao has fallen in with a bad element, and at the insistence of Thao's mother, the young man goes to work for Walt. It's like the first act of Free Willy, but the whale is a car, and people get to say the F word.

A 'Gran' old time

Produced on a relatively low budget, estimated by Box Office Mojo to be somewhere in the $30 million range, Gran Torino cleaned up in theaters, pulling a hair shy of $270 million worldwide. It marked the second of Eastwood's two directorial efforts in 2008, the first being the Angelina Jolie period drama Changeling. Both received relatively warm welcomes from critics, with Torino nabbing a certified fresh 81% reviewer approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, on top of a 90% positive audience score. All of that hammered home the weirdness surrounding the Academy Awards' decision to full-on snub both pictures, which seemed like shoe ins following Million Dollar Baby's four big wins in 2005.

Even so, Gran Torino poked at the parts of reviewers' brains that makes them go all poetic. Roger Ebert opined that the film was "about two things, I believe. It's about the belated flowering of a man's better nature. And it's about Americans of different races growing more open to one another in the new century." The New Yorker called it "a rueful comedy of enlightenment." The American Film Institute included Gran Torino on its list of the Top 10 Movies of 2018, which put it in the same category as Wall-E, and that's not nothing.

Gran Torino can now be streamed on Netflix.