Anytime a film icon like Clint Eastwood decides, especially at his age, to put his effort into a film, the film world and fans take notice. With a career which has spanned over seven decades, Eastwood has certainly made his mark on film both in front and behind the camera. When you can point to having films like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Dirty Harry, Unforgiven, The Bridges of Madison County, and others in your list on IMDB it cannot be denied that Eastwood is a star of the film world.
About to turn 89, Eastwood does not work as often as he used to. Understandably. Before the release of this film in 2018, Eastwood had not made a film for four years. This is one in which you cannot really picture any other actor in the lead role. Tailor made for him, yet still a little different from what he has done in the past.
Being in financial trouble, 90-years-old and estranged from most of his family, has led to Korean War veteran Earl Stone (Clint Eastwood) navigating through a rough patch in his life. After being run out of a family function, he is approached by someone he doesn’t know and told that he can earn a bunch of money for just driving. To someone who has spent loads of his life crisscrossing the U.S. this sounds really appealing. Plus he can use the money to help everyone in his life who needs it.
What he does not really understand or learn until he goes to the assigned place to start his first trip is that he has agreed to become a drug mule for a Mexican cartel. After getting over the shock, the lure of the money is too strong. Being a rather unique individual and a gregarious one, Earl makes himself popular with the cartel members, including the boss Laton (Andy Garcia – Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Rio 2) and his handler, Julio (Ignacio Serricchio – from television’s The Young and the Restless). Plus, because he has his wits about him to get out of any tight scrapes he comes up against and due to his age is not really going to be suspected as someone who is transporting drugs, he is a really good drug mule.
It is only after Laton is murdered and Gustavo (Clifton Collins Jr. – Capote, Traffic) and his muscle, Eduardo (Daniel Moncada – from television’s Better Call Saul), take over that Earl’s new career becomes tricky. And dangerous for him. Things come to a head when his granddaughter Ginny (Taissa Farmiga – from television’s American Horror Story) calls him to say that Earl’s ex-wife Mary (Dianne Wiest – Hannah and her Sisters, The Birdcage) is close to death. Earl, the man who always put work before family, has a tough decision to make. One that might mean his death.
Based on a true story, there is nothing not to like about The Mule. It is quirky, heartwarming and even fun at times. Shows you different aspects of the story. Not just your run of the mill drug story. One that looks at it from multiple sides. None easy. We see how the drug mule, drug sellers/cartels and law enforcement all deal with the situation. Plays well upon all the nuances in the story.
Obviously at his age, Clint Eastwood can only play a certain number of roles. His days of playing the cowboy or guy with a gun are done. Interesting to see him play more mature characters and to see what attracts him to work.
This is a drama with some thriller elements just because of the nature of the story. The drugs add some tension, but in all honesty why you watch this film is for the acting. Eastwood and Eastwood in his few scenes with other talented actors like Dianne Wiest and Bradley Cooper.
Film and story develop slowly. This is a trademark of Eastwood behind the camera. His films do not explode rather they do a slow burn. Never in a hurry with what he wants to say. Rather brings things along rather organically. Character study of a man seeking or striving for redemption.
-The Making of The Mule: Nobody Runs Forever