The Mule review
If you've ever seen movies like Midnight Run or a TV show like Locked Up Abroad, then it should be simple to understand that being a drug mule is extremely dangerous. It may be tempting to potentially acquire thousands of dollars for a simple run of a delivery. Along with the fact that the law is being broken, the danger is enough that your working for gun touting people that are too unpredictable to know how their going to react. This is why they tend to only look for people who have nothing to lose or those that are simply naïve to understand the consequences of what their getting into.
So why use a senior citizen for the job? Because it's much more unlikely to happen. But it can; and it did. The New York Times published an article I haven't read about a Korean War veteran who became a drug mule in his eighties. That is already an entertaining story, as you don't hear someone that old doing much, let alone something dangerous. Not to mention to be contempt with your position is another factor. This is a rare instance in which someone was both naïve and had nothing left to lose. Who better to tell this story then Clint Eastwood in The Mule.
Earl Stone (played by Clint Eastwood) was once a famous horticulturist who may have been popular with his flowers and speaking circuits, but had cost him his relationship with his wife Mary (played by Dianne Wiest) and daughter Iris (Played by Alison Eastwood). Now at ninety, he's fallen on hard times, due to his flower business getting killed by the internet. He's still estranged from his family (with the exception of his adult granddaughter) and his house is about to be foreclosed on.
While visiting his granddaughter, he's approached by a guy who tells him about a job where you just drive. Earl accepts and makes his way to El Paso to pick up the package. Though the people he works with give him instructions on what to do, he makes the trip fine, along with a couple of thousand dollars. It doesn’t take long to realize what he's transporting (drugs), but decides to keep doing it to try and fix everything broken. At the same time, a new DEA agent Colin (played by Bradley Cooper) is investigating a variety of drug cartels, including the one that Earl Stone is a mule for.
I'm glad to see that Eastwood still has a lot of energy in his late life, as he's not only directing well, but also acting well in The Mule. As you may have read from the story summary, this isn't as deep or thick as his earlier work like Mystic River or Million Dollar Baby, but it's also supposed to be that way. The Mule is made as exactly as this story should be; a smooth, almost lazy trip through an urban myth that seems too good to be true. Eastwood has a talent for taking these kinds of stories and making them large without doing so.
Like a lot of Eastwood movies, I can't say this has a plot exactly. It's more of a darker slice of life and how their played out. He understands that while could appear boring for some people, it's a better way to establish personality and humanity. Everyone goes through their arcs, even some of the cartel guys, but I won't give that away. They each fulfill an emptiness within Eastwood's character.
Because this is a character reliant story, it was important for each one to be as interesting as possible. That is definitely the case as Eastwood is still the likable grump we know, Bradley Cooper does well trying to portray the justice he's trying to serve, and the extended family does fine in their moments whether it's the ex wife trying to find reasons to hate her husband or the daughter feeling the years of hurt from what happened.
Not all character actions work completely, especially for Eastwood's character. Even if he was that naïve, you would have thought it would take less time for him to realize that he was carrying drugs. Other then that, I don't have much issue.
I'll give this four old trucks out of five. I can understand a lot having issue with the slow pace, but it needs to be understood that’s how a lot of Eastwood movies are. I think this won't have trouble finding an audience. Go see it and witness how this drive is quite enjoyable.