Clint Eastwood directs and starred in the curious tale of a flawed 90-year-old horticulturalist turned Mexican drug cartel mule named The Mule (2018). Inspired by The New York Times article, Nick Schenk penned the screenplay for what ultimately may be Eastwood’s final on-screen acting or directing role. The film was Eastwood‘s first starring role since Trouble with the Curve (2012).
(Clint Eastwood as Earl Stone in The Mule).
The notion of Earl Stone, as played by Clint Eastwood, serving as the transportation for drug smuggling with a drug cartel came to pass after a long period of failed relations between he and his family. Earl had spent a lot of time on the road serving his passion for growing and selling flowers, largely to the detriment to his relationships with his ex-wife Mary Stone (portrayed by Dianne Wiest), his daughter Iris (as played by Clint‘s real life daughter Alison Eastwood), and his granddaughter Ginny (played as an adult by Taissa Farmiga).
(From left, Dianne Wiest as Mary Stone, Alison Eastwood as Iris, and Taissa Farmiga as Ginny in The Mule).
It was after missing many milestones in his daughter’s life and with his wife that granddaughter Ginny invited Earl to a gathering before her wedding where Earl made an appearance. Drama ensued for all to see when a still bitter Iris made a scene about the perceived histrionics of his presence. Accusations of his habitual absence for flower conventions coupled with chronic financial distress were leveled, which prompted someone within earshot to offer Earl the path to transporting drugs for a criminal drug operation.
(Clint Eastwood as Earl Stone, center left, and Andy Garcia as Laton, center right, in The Mule).
Earl had been attractive for such a role due to his age, ethnicity, financial difficulties, and clear record of cautious driving as proven by his testimony of no driving tickets despite having driven to more than 40 of the 50 United States. Laton, as played by Andy Garcia, headed the organization where Earl flourished through a half-dozen or more trips worth of successful drug transportation. This process worked for the cartel until the oddity of Earl’s case caught the attention of those tasked with combating drug crime.
(Bradley Cooper as Agent Colin Bates, top left, Michael Peña as Agent Treviño, top right, and Laurence Fishburne as the Special Agent in Charge in The Mule).
Laurence Fishburne as the unnamed Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago, Illinois office of the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, was in part tasked with stemming the flow of drugs into Illinois. Bradley Cooper as Agent Colin Bates and Michael Peña as Agent Treviño worked under the supervision of Fishburne‘s character, with eyes on the cartel led Laton and his cartel.
(Clifton Collins Jr. as Gustavo in The Mule).
Shortly after Laton brought Earl to Laton’s Mexican home to celebrate Earl’s success, Gustavo (as played by Clifton Collins Jr.) made a shocking play in the cartel. This prompted a change in the manner of how Earl would conduct his business with the cartel, thus leading to the law enforcement success the DEA representatives referenced above had been seeking.
(Nick Shenk wrote the screenplay for The Mule).
My overall reaction to the film is that much of the story along with many of the acting performances offered the possibility of charm with little in terms of emotional payoff. Neither the roles nor the story offered much to make me want to watch this again nor think about how clever or charming the action was portrayed. The storytelling was straightforward and clear. The fact that the film felt in many ways like a retelling of the film Gran Torino (2008), without some of the impact of the first film, perhaps makes this one suffer in comparison. Overall, my rating is 3.25-stars on a scale of one-to-five.
Matt – Saturday, August 31, 2019