“The Mule” – 7.0
In a word: Disappointing.
Clint Eastwood is one of the all-time great directors in Hollywood, especially with movies like Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven. But this was no Unforgiven.
It could be that attending any Eastwood movie is much like going to see Spielberg or Scorsece’s work, we have high expectations. Eastwood creates those same expectations, which is why this film does not rise to those usual common Eastwood standards. Then again, what should we expect from a movie great who is approaching ninety years old.
In the movie, Clint Eastwood plays Earl Stone, a man in his 80s who is broke, alone, and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job by some swarthy young drug dealers that simply requires him to drive and haul shipments and do nothing else. Unbeknownst to Earl, he’s just signed on as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. He does so well that his cargo increases with each journey. Meanwhile, the mysterious new drug mule has also hit the radar of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates (played by Bradley Cooper). As his money problems become a thing of the past, Earl’s mistakes start to weigh heavily on him, particularly as it relates to ignoring his family members over the years. Then there is the perennial police, dogging the drug world in order to fulfill the mandate to make lots of busts.
Eastwood is a good actor, but the lines in some scenes are simply too far-fetched and frankly, stupid. There are also too many flaws in the script that deviate too far from reality, whether it be dialogue between criminals, or the absence of simple common sense in playing out some of the law enforcement scenarios. In one courtroom scene, a defendant argues with his attorney because he wants to plead guilty to a crime. When he convinces the female judge that he’s staying with the plea, she simply calls for the courtroom officer to take him into custody and off to prison. She forgets to adjudicate him “Guilty” first.
One scene after another, the Hispanic bad guys overact, smugly showing off their power by intimidating an 88 year old man that can’t be intimidated. Andy Garcia emerges in a small role playing a Cartel chieftain. Even though Garcia has aged, he’s just not convincing.
Be that as it may, it was enjoyable, though flawed. Think of Eastwood as a legend to be, that we are grateful for having such a durable genius in the world of motion pictures. He’s amazing, yes, but this film tells me that his time may be running short.
I give it a 7 out of 10.