‘The Mule’ | Film Review

December 15, 2018
M.N. Miller 0
Film, Film Reviews
2

Summary

The Mule has its moments, but too much effort is used trying to redeem Eastwood’s character. Are we not past “a product of his time” as an excuse for politically incorrect comic relief?

2

Summary

The Mule has its moments, but too much effort is used trying to redeem Eastwood’s character. Are we not past “a product of his time” as an excuse for politically incorrect comic relief?

The Mule is the first acting role from Clint Eastwood in over six years and his first lead role since 2008’s Gran Torino.  This Eastwood installment is much more akin to Blood Work, Changeling, and 15:17 to Paris than his more prominent American Sniper, Million Dollar Baby, and Unforgiven films.

Eastwood plays Earl Stone, a Korean war veteran with a family but might as well have none because they all hate him except for his 20-something granddaughter (played by Taissa Farmiga, Vera’s younger sister). When being chased out of a family event by his ex-wife (Dianne Wiest), a family friend runs after him to offer him a job after he overhears he has driven across the country with a perfect driving record. Stone takes the job, not understanding what he has gotten into, not knowing (the first run or two at least) he was running drugs for the Mexican cartel through Michigan to Chicago and being paid handsomely for it.

Over a ten-year period, he broke several cartel records (apparently, they keep track because he is told this from his coworkers frequently, but if he was given a trophy, it must have been off-screen). Soon, an ambitious up-and-coming DEA agent (Bradley Cooper, collaborating with Eastwood again for the first time since American Sniper) starts to build a case and begins to track the infamous drug mule that he can’t seem to catch.

Eastwood’s Stone is based on the true story of Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran who became a drug mule in his 80’s and lasted almost ten years, transporting over 3 million dollars worth of cocaine throughout his courier career. He was also a world-renowned Horticulturist for creating new breeds of flowers. He was the perfect beard, and no one would suspect him.

The Mule is an interesting story, but far too much time is wasted on humanizing the character to make the audience care about the outcome. Right, when the story begins to build any suspense or tension, it turns back to Stone trying to reconnect with his family, and the film begins to simmer down, rather than boil, while trying to be a family-friendly drug mule film by the end.

If you like Eastwood, you might like the film and even find his performance charming. When watching The Mule, however, I watched him continually make politically incorrect joke after politically incorrect joke. I couldn’t help but think, have we not gotten past using the excuse of “he is an old man and is a product of his time” as justification for insensitive comments and jokes as comic relief? The chuckles throughout the theatre during these scenes were uncomfortable, to say the least.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.