What do you hope to do when you're 80-years-old? I think most of us would be happy just being alive. Oscar-winning Director Clint Eastwood is 80 and seems to be getting younger and younger with each new movie he does. I was never really a big fan of Eastwood as an actor. Dirty Harry movies never did much for me. As a director, however, he's given us some of the best films of the last decade. I thought Million Dollar Baby and Flags of Our Fathers were incredible and powerful. But (and I know many disagree with me) he also gave us complete duds like Gran Torino and Invictus. Hereafter is his first dive into the paranormal but it's not scary at all. This could be a sequel to The Sixth Sense and Matt Damon is the little kid all grown up. He's the reluctant psychic that can commune with the dead. He has a gift but doesn't want to use it because it's too hurtful to his life. Sounds like a pretty cliched story, right? Well, what Eastwood and writer Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) tried to do to make it fresh is have two other stories that are totally unrelated to Damon's and have them crisscross a la Traffic or Babel. The other two stories involve a French journalist played by Cecile de France and a young British boy played by Frankie McLaren. Either of these stories would be interesting on their own but are told in such a boring, plodding way. The story of the French woman starts the movie and it's utterly amazing and enthralling. It takes place during the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. It's so incredible in the way it was filmed and really does a great job of showing how horrible that event was. The British boy's story also involves a true story and it is the terrorist bombing of the London subway in 2005. However, whenever Eastwood does a movie that features a child actor to carry a major role, it's a safe bet that it will be cast horribly. The reason why Gran Torino was so bad was because the two child actors he cast were unwatchable. McLaren isn't much better. I get the impression that he was cast because he was a twin and has the most pathetic, dopey look on his face that screams tragedy without saying a word. And if he was playing a mute in the film, that would be just fine, but he's not. I know it's cruel to single out a kid as the weakest link in a painfully average movie so I'll emphasis that it's not just him. The whole film lacked any kind of energy or pulse. I wish Matt Damon's psychic character could commune with this dead film to find out how to make it better. Even the moments that made me tear up only achieved half of the potential the story offered. The good news though is that doing these movies seems to keep Eastwood alive and well and we can keep hoping for another Million Dollar Baby.
Hereafter (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C