Director: Clint Eastwood Language: English Runtime: 116 minutes Links: IMDB Get off my lawn you darn kids It's hard not to see a little bit of “Dirty” Harry Callahan in Clint Eastwood's performance as a foulmouthed, racist Korean War veteran in “Gran Torino.” Eastwood's Walt Kowalski is as old school as they come and he can't help but scowl and grunt at the ever-changing world around him. He has a no-nonsense attitude and an array of firearms in his possession, and when he pulls a gun on a gang-banger who steps onto his lawn, you almost expect him to growl, “Go ahead, make my day.” Following the death of his loving and religious wife, all Walt wants is to be left alone so he can sit on his porch with his golden retriever Daisy and puff down cigarettes while empty and crumpled cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon stack up next to his chair. Walt doesn't like the fact that his family thinks he should move into a nursing home and he is utterly annoyed with the local Catholic priest (Christopher Carley) who persistently pesters him, but the biggest thorn in his side is the influx of minorities in his one-time blue-collar, suburban Detroit neighborhood, especially the Hmong family that lives right next door. The grumpy old man tries to keep to himself, but all that changes when he is awakened one night by some banging sounds in his garage. Armed with his Army-issued M1 rifle, Walt discovers the loud noises are coming from his shy teenage neighbor Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang), who is reluctantly trying to steal his cherished 1972 Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation. Thao ends up escaping unharmed, but because his family is strict in following their cultural traditions, he is required to pay for his misstep by doing chores for Walt, who is initially hesitant to accept his new servant. But as the two get to know each other and look past each other's differences, they form an unlikely bond that neither of them will forget for the rest of their lives. Where the film goes from here won't exactly leave you sitting on the edge of your seat, but Eastwood's one-of-kind performance is so engrossing that the overall story really doesn't matter. Don't get me wrong, the screenplay from Nick Schenk does pack a few surprises here and there, but the reason “Gran Torino” is going to stick in your mind is Eastwood's persuasive portrayal of a bitter war veteran who struggles with adapting to the modern world. Now, I should warn anyone with sensitive ears there are times when you may feel a little bit uncomfortable because Eastwood's vulgar and crass character holds nothing back and lets racial slurs fly like machine gun bullets. But as horrible as this sounds, after watching Walt go through his daily routine you kind of feel sorry for him, and even though he is tough as nails on the outside, his relationship with Thao shows he can be just as caring as Mother Teresa on the inside. (However, I doubt Mother Teresa would protect those closest to her with guns and brutal violence.) And Eastwood may be best known for playing hard-nosed bruisers like Dirty Harry, Josie Wales, Bill Munny and the Man with No Name, but he also has the ability to make people laugh, and there are plenty of humorous moments in “Gran Torino,” especially the scene where Walt and his barber (John Carol Lynch) try to teach Thao how to talk and act like a man. But as great as “Gran Torino” is, the one thing that holds it back from being a perfect film is the decision of Eastwood, who also serves as director, to select first-time actors to play the parts of the Hmong characters. It never really gets too distracting, but it's obvious some of the actors don't have any experience, and the only one who really comes off looking like a seasoned veteran is Ahney Her, who plays Sue Lor, Thao's older, protective sister. The majority of the movie is spent on the interactions between Walt and Thao, but the more amusing scenes involve Sue, who sarcastically returns every insult from Walt that is thrown her way. I know I may be gushing over “Gran Torino” a little excessively, but there is a reasonable explanation for that: Eastwood is one of my favorite actors and directors of all time and it's great to see at the age of 78 he can still single-handedly carry a film. Which is why it makes it painfully difficult for me to say there are rumors floating around that “Gran Torino” might be Eastwood's last film in front of the camera. If “Gran Torino” is in fact the fat lady singing on Eastwood's acting career, I couldn't think of a more fitting way to say goodbye to one of Hollywood's most iconic and revered stars. Rating: 9 out of 10