The Mule is the newest film from actor-director Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino). It is about a 90 year-old man who becomes one of the most successful mules for a drug cartel so that he can achieve financial security and reconcile with his family. It is inspired by a true story.
The story of this movie is definitely compelling. Crime movies are typically interesting, and since the protagonist is such an unexpected criminal, the story is even more fascinating. Although the aging criminal story was done with much greater success earlier this year in The Old Man & the Gun, this film is still sure to win over its target audience.
The movie is a little slow at times, but it wasn’t ever boring. The trailer promised an intense thriller, and in reality, the movie is more of a contemplative drama. Luckily, the themes are quite thought-provoking, albeit direct and straightforward. If you are able to buy into the family element of the story more so than the crime element, it will draw you into the film.
The characters are actually quite well-written. The protagonist is flawed and dynamic, making him thoroughly sympathetic. The family storyline goes a long way in developing the character and making the story more compelling. Another thing that the movie does really well is developing the characters in the cartel. It doesn’t glorify them, but it doesn’t portray them as shallow archetypes either.
That being said, the film does have some big issues. It has absolutely no filter. There are multiple lines in the script that are blatantly offensive, with multiple racial slurs being uttered over the course of the movie with no satirical purpose. It felt legitimately racist. There was also one scene that was directly homophobic.
The ensemble that was assembled for this film was very strong. It’s certainly the Clint Eastwood show, and for the most part, he does a good job. He does stumble through a few scenes, but that is probably because he is 88 years old, so he can be given a pass. Bradley Cooper is great in his role, too. The rest of the supporting cast is good, but underused.
The movie’s execution is pretty solid too. The cinematography in multiple scenes is excellent, especially during the scenes in which Eastwood’s character is making his runs. It has a very old-school vibe, assisted by the soundtrack. The editing is also quite good, although there are a few unnecessary quirks, like excessive use of on-screen text.
Overall, The Mule was a solid, but not great film. It had the potential to be a lot better, but it is still interesting and enjoyable.
The Mule is now playing in theaters.