The Mule: Five Reasons You’ll Love It
After four decades as a director and six as an actor, Clint Eastwood needs no introduction and even though the screen legend is well into his ninth decade on this planet, the veteran screen legend seems to have absolutely no intention of retiring.
His latest film The Mule is his 40th in the director's chair and made its arrival in cinemas this weekend, with Eastwood also tackling the starring role. The film's plot is loosely based on the true story of Leo Sharp, a world-renowned horticulturalist who, at the age of 90, had become the oldest and most prolific drug mule ever to be employed by the Sinaloa cartel, before he was finally arrested by the DEA with 200 kilos of cocaine in his truck.
Adapted from Sam Dolnick's New York Times article about Sharp's exploits by Gran Torino screenwriter Nick Schenk, Eastwood's version of the story sees the actor starring as Earl Stone, an ageing horticultiralist and former Vietnam veteran who finds an unlikely solution to his financial woes, only to find himself mixed up in a world of Mexican drug barons.
Alongside Eastwood is a cast which includes Bradley Cooper, Lawrence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Andy Garcia, Alison Eastwood and Diane Wiest, and with The Mule in cinemas now we caught a screening and rounded up five reasons why we think you'll love Clint Eastwood's latest outing...
A high calibre cast elevates an otherwise straightforward story
On the face of things the plot of The Mule is a very simple one: a former prize-winning horticulturalist with a lifelong habit of putting his work before his family is down on his luck and out of favour with his wife and daughter. Facing foreclosure on his house, a chance meeting while on a visit to his granddaughter’s house promises what seems like easy cash, but his naivety soon lands him in the employment of a Mexican cartel.
His subsequent trips to and from Chicago with increasingly large quantities of cocaine in his truck are a time bomb that ticks throughout the film, but even if it feels like the destination is inevitable, the story throws up a few curveballs along the way and there are enough impressive performances from the movie’s excellent supporting cast help make The Mule an absorbing watch.
Clint Eastwood has still got it
At 88, Clint Eastwood might not be delivering the kind of swashbuckling, all-action performances that he made his name with in films such as Dirty Harry and A Fistful of Dollars, but he’s chosen his roles carefully in recent years and here, as ageing horticulturalist turned drug mule Earl, he delivers a more subtle, nuanced performance, but one that’s every bit as captivating.
Bradley Cooper is the film’s dark horse
Cooper’s talents as an actor are no secret and after his Oscar-nominated performance under Clint Eastwood’s direction in American Sniper, it’s not surprising the pair were keen to work together again. Cooper’s relentless, ruthless DEA agent offers the perfect counterfoil to Eastwood’s ageing anti-hero and The Mule is a much better film for his presence.
There’s a quiet tension that keeps your nerves jangling throughout
Between the cartel, the DEA and various near misses with patrol cops, there are plenty of moments when things threaten to spin quickly out of control, but the film repeatedly pulls Earl back from the brink of disaster, creating waves of tension that swell and then subside just at the moment it feels like all hell is going to break loose.
At its heart, it’s a film about family
It may take Earl a frustratingly long time to realise it, but the message here is one about the importance of family and it’s only in the face of his most serious troubles that Earl finally makes the decision to put his family before his work. It’s almost enough to save him, but by then Earl is ready to face the music, even if a happy ending is too much to ask for.