Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne
Release Date: April 2, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
Earl Stone (Clint Eastwood) is a man in his 80s who is broke, alone and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive. Easy enough, but, unbeknownst to Earl, he’s just signed on as a drug courier for the cartel. He does well—so well, in fact, that his cargo increases exponentially, and Earl is assigned a handler. But he isn’t the only one keeping tabs on Earl; the mysterious new drug mule has also hit the radar of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper). And even as his money problems become a thing of the past, Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on him, and it’s uncertain if he’ll have time to right those wrongs before law enforcement, or the cartel’s enforcers, catch up to him.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘The Mule’ tells the tale of Earl Stone (Eastwood), a generally well intentioned man in his 80’s who is presented with a questionable yet incredibly tempting offer to make some much needed money following some truly troubled times. Desperate to reconnect with his family but possessing what he feels is nothing to offer, he soon finds himself as a regular mule for the cartel, willingly transporting drugs and making a hefty chunk of change in the process for his services. Finally starting to find his way back to a capable life and able to contribute to his family, he still can’t resist the job and when the cartel starts noticing his knack for the work, he soon finds himself being looked at as one of their potential top mules. But with a group of DEA agents hot on the trail and starting to piece together the puzzle, things could quickly become far more dangerous at any moment.
Produced and Directed by the talented Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, American Sniper) from a screenplay by Nick Schenk (Gran Torino) which was inspired by the New York Times Magazine Article “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year Old Drug Mule” by Sam Dolnick respectively, Eastwood does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘The Mule’ smoothly guiding along the tension, heart and occasional humor with ease. Eastwood also offers a great performance in front of the camera taking the lead role in this one, and his talent is greatly complimented by a wonderful supporting cast that includes Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Laurence Fishburne (Last Flag Flying), Michael Peña (End of Watch), Andy Garcia (Book Club), Dianne Wiest (TV’s Life in Pieces), Alison Eastwood (Poolhall Junkies), Taissa Farmiga (TV’s American Horror Story) and many more, nearly all offering capable performances at the very least in each of their respective roles.
‘The Mule’ is a calm, tense and at times quite moving ride with a few sprinkles of humor that accompanies one elderly man as he becomes increasingly more involved in the dangerous drug trade as a perfect mule for the cartel in a desperate attempt to rekindle a relationship with his family before it’s too late. Never a film that tries to be an action vehicle or assault the viewer with violence around every turn, it concentrates primarily on the human nature of the story and the decisions and activity this generally well-meaning and kind individual willfully participates in. Albeit wrong in many respects, not to mention illegal, he soon finds himself in danger around every turn yet even so can’t quite resist the benefits the job offers. It’s carefully guided along by director Clint Eastwood who also provides a noteworthy performance in front of the camera and is only further complimented by a capable supporting cast. I would definitely encourage giving ‘The Mule’ a chance. It’s a pretty great film for the most part that may not quite be one of last year’s absolute best (a year filled with no shortage of remarkable films) but definitely doesn’t disappoint either. With talented work from Eastwood on both sides of the camera and an engulfing story, it’s one movie that even if you’re not overly interested in already, may nonetheless pleasantly surprise you should you decide to check it out.
Overall, ‘The Mule’ is an engrossing tale of one older man’s choice to risk the little he has in order to find the financing and comfort to finish his life and hopefully reestablish the bruised relationships with his family after so long. A solid film that doesn’t play by the usual tone and formula most similar films often do and makes for an engulfing journey that’s occasionally humorous and often intense and moving. ‘The Mule’ is highly recommended, especially for fans of Eastwood’s efforts on both ends of the camera who are sure to appreciate his capable work both as both director and star of this solid overall film. It’s a well-made and thoroughly enjoyable film that should be well worth a couple hours of your time and the cost of a rental one evening if you’re seeking something with plenty of heart and excitement to dive into.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Mule’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and offers a sharp, detailed and clean presentation from start to finish with no notable faults or problems to be found throughout. It holds up admirably even during the darkly lit and faster moving sequences, never causing any onscreen activity to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a great high definition video presentation that should have no trouble pleasing both fans of the film and first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack nicely compliments the film and provides a crisp, clean and at times somewhat active audio presentation throughout. If regularly takes advantage of all five available channels not so much to deliver a barrage of aggressive effects, but more to contribute nature elements, background noise and other milder activity that immerses you in the tale, and never conflicting with any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it and never falters along the way.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Mule’ includes a couple brief extras. Included on the release is the Behind the Scenes Featurette ‘The Making of The Mule: Nobody Runs Forever’ (running approximately 11 minutes in length) which includes some interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. Also included is the ‘Toby Keith “Don’t Let the Old Man In” Music Video’ (running approximately 3 minutes).