Always on the search for those ever-elusive “so bad it’s great” films.
In “The Mule,” Clint Eastwood plays Earl Stone, a man who spent his entire life placing his career over his family. The film is vague regarding what exactly his career was. At the start of the movie, Earl is a horticulturalist, but they imply that he was a truck driver throughout the majority of his life.
Perhaps I’m prejudiced to believe that horticulturalists and truck drivers are professions that a person might sell their family out for. They’re busy people, damnit!
Anyway, Earl gets wrapped up with the cartels, where he becomes – surprise! – a drug mule. It features all the classic Eastwood staples: casual racism, old man grumblings and two scenes in which Eastwood has threesomes with women in their twenties. Old Clint sure knows how to get around!
To encapsulate the entire movie, however, I will jump to the end of the movie. SPOILERS AHEAD! The drug dealers show Earl a dead body in the trunk of their car. They inform Earl that if he arrives even a second late to the drop that he’s a dead man. Later, while driving to the drop site, Earl learns that his ex-wife (played by Dianne Wiest) is dying.
Earl, having learned that family is more important than career, abandons his route and drives to his ex-wife’s home to be with her on her deathbed. Thematically, this is all well and good. In reality, it’s the stupidest thing that a person could ever do. The man has millions of dollars worth of cocaine in the back of his truck, was threatened with death and decides to drive to his family’s house where both his daughter and granddaughter are also located.
Earl watches his ex-wife die and attends her funeral before resurfacing. All things considered, he probably spent a week at his family’s home with these drugs in his truck. This isn’t a big deal in the movie because the drug cartel has no idea where he is.
In reality, twelve thugs would have burst into the house two hours after Earl arrived and brutally murdered every single member of his family. Glad you finally picked family over career, Earl!
“The Mule” is one of the better Clint Eastwood films in recent years, which means it’s decent but not great. I want to say that in the hands of a younger director it would have been much better. In Eastwood’s hands the pacing is clunky and bizarre. Still, if this was Clint Eastwood’s last starring role, it wasn’t a terrible outing to go out on. The majority of the audience will forgive the movies flaws because they love Clint Eastwood.