The Mule review


Credit: Bron Studios

Mason Giustino, Executive Producer

Clint Eastwood is back in front of the camera for the first time in six years, yet again directing himself with the same charisma he’s had since he started.

Based on an article by the New York Times, The Mule follows Earl Stone, a 90-year-old retired horticulturist, an expert in developing plants. Stone’s home has recently been foreclosed and he is left alone after having burned bridges with his ex-wife and daughter for his failures as a husband and father. When Stone goes to visit his granddaughter at her engagement party, he is confronted by his ex-wife as she makes a scene accusing him of seeking money from his granddaughter. As he is leaving the party, a man trots over to Stone’s truck and tells him that he overheard his argument and knows how he could make some money just from driving and Stone takes the phone number the unknown man gives him. It is inferred after this that the man is in contact with the cartel for which Stone begins transporting cocaine from El Paso to Chicago for a hefty sum of cash each trip.

Even with a story that may lack in some areas, he is able to maintain the film overall with his use of scenery and subtle yet realistic dialogue.”

— Mason Giustino

Behind the camera, Eastwood has shown his skills and abilities. Even with a story that may lack in some areas, he is able to maintain the film overall with his use of scenery and subtle yet realistic dialogue. From an acting standpoint, Eastwood may not be an Oscar contender but he gives the heartfelt performance of a man that is trying to make up for his missteps in the past in the limited time he has left at his age. Also giving a solid performance, Bradley Cooper plays the rivaling DEA agent who adds suspense and a feeling of intimacy to the story as he pursues the top drug mule of a cartel. As Cooper and his team started to close in on Eastwood, I found myself rooting for Stone to not get caught as he used his new funds to keep his community VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) from closing, help pay for his granddaughter’s wedding and buy back his home.

Although I highly enjoyed this movie overall it still has some pretty serious flaws. In many scenes I found myself cringing at cliche dialogue whenever Stone’s ex-wife or granddaughter were speaking. The cast missed the target completely on multiple chances to deliver powerful and emotional performances in intense moments of the movie. But to make it worse, the delivery is just as awful as the lines which force the audience to zone in on the faults of the writers and actors. Along with this, Eastwood included some scenes that may have benefited from being left on the cutting floor as they feel repetitive and don’t anything to the film as a whole.

The movie was nowhere near perfect but still told a story of redemption and family that was thoughtful and enjoyable. The end of the movie shows Stone at peace and I also think it shows Eastwood at peace with his work and that if this were to be his last film it would be the perfect send-off for an amazing career. Clint Eastwood has played every character under the sun but being himself at long last would be his best role.

Grade: B+