The Mule (2018)
In Cinemas Now
Nobody runs forever.
Clint Eastwood reunites with the writer of 2009's Gran Torino to direct and star in this crime drama about an elderly war veteran who smuggles cocaine through Michigan for a Mexican drug cartel. Co-stars Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper and Laurence Fishburne, as well as Michael Peña (Ant-Man) and Taissa Farmiga (The Nun).
Eastwood stars as Earl Stone, a man in his 80s who is broke, alone, and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive. Easy enough, but, unbeknownst to Earl, he’s just signed on as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. He does well—so well, in fact, that his cargo increases exponentially, and Earl is assigned a handler. But he isn’t the only one keeping tabs on Earl; the mysterious new drug mule has also hit the radar of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates (Cooper). And even as his money problems become a thing of the past, Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on him, and it’s uncertain if he’ll have time to right those wrongs before law enforcement, or the cartel’s enforcers, catch up to him.
- Bay Of Plenty
- Hawke's Bay
- Nelson-Tasman Bay
- Taupo-Central Plateau
- West Coast
- Clint Eastwood('Gran Torino', 'American Sniper', 'Million Dollar Baby', 'Unforgiven')
Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rating: M Offensive language and nudity
Clint Eastwood stars and directs in this tale of an aged drug mule, from a based-on-a-true-story screenplay by Gran Torino scribe Nick Schenk. Octogenarian Eastwood plays 90-year-old Korean war vet turned horticulturalist Earl Stone. His flower farm’s foreclosed and he’s struggling to make ends meet when he’s offered a job as a driver, no questions asked. Although, to be fair, if you rolled up to collect a suitcase from stereotypical muscled Mexican gang members covered in neck tattoos, waving sub-machine guns in your face, and telling you not to look in the bag, you might be a tad suspicious.
Not Earl though.
Singing along to old songs on the car radio as he smuggles huge quantities of cartel cocaine, Eastwood’s Earl is a grumpy old git, stooped and shuffling, mumbling such gems as “Damn Internet ruins everything” in an old-school/casually racist/misogynistic/doesn’t understand texting kinda way. Clint’s chiselled charisma carries the plodding plot, whilst a star-studded supporting cast fills out underwritten, cardboard-cut-out characters. Bradley Cooper, Michael Peña and Laurence Fishburne phone in their performances as DEA agents, Dianne Wiest does her best as Earl’s long-suffering ex-wife, as does Clint’s daughter Alison as, um, his daughter, and Andy Garcia’s cartel don is given little to do other than wave a gold-plated shotgun.
Clint’s direction is solid as ever, with little fuss or show, aside from one great shot (literally) of Garcia’s don. A smattering of f-bombs, almost no on-screen violence, a wry twinkle in Clint’s eyes, and a narrative that barely touches on the issues raised, from the morality of drug-smuggling to espousing outmoded, politically incorrect views, and the regret felt by a man realising too late he’s put work before family. There’s an attempt at Robin Hood morality, as Earl seeks to make up for lost time, using his ill-gotten gains to help others, but it’s not until the very end that he all-too-briefly reflects on his culpability.
Long-time Eastwood fans may enjoy the legend’s craggy face and dry humour, but the subject matter deserves a better script, one that’s not reliant solely on the fading charisma of its star.
TimeOut (New York)
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
NZ Herald (Dominic Corry)
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
Solid character study
Clint Eastwood never was one for wearing anything on his sleeve. This is a solid and compelling piece of cinema from a master who knows his craft. From a deft, efficient setup, we follow Eastwood’s aged protagonist into moral peril, but admire his fundamental decency. That he is the author of his own misfortunes gradually dawns on him, leading to a satisfying dramatic denouement.
If you know old people....
Yes, there wasn't a huge amount of story or action but this suited the subject - an old man who is not part of the mad techno generation racing around like fleas in a jar. Clint did a great job in the role and no matter what your own age, if you have people of this age in your own life, you will relate. I found it a beautiful character study which made me smile at times and feel sad at others. There was some obvious moralising but lots of subtle messages about life and attitudes, right and wrong as well - so that there was something for most to give at least a moment's thought. The last scene made me think of all the old people I know, particularly those in resthomes where their freedom and happiness (or lack of this) comes from the soul and not so much from their circumstances and surroundings.