The Mule (2018)
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Eastwood portrays Earl Stone, a mild-mannered hardworking horticulturalist who became a champion drug mule for the cartels as law enforcement was completely blind to his low-key but highly effective operations. Enter Bradley Cooper as the dedicated DEA agent who has to muster considerable time and resources to even begin to piece things together and Michael Pena as his partner. Dianne Weist offers a sympathetic turn as Stone's long-suffering ex-wife. Andy Garcia is good fun as the drug lord who is pleased with the old mercenary's hard work.
Although this film covers a grim story, it has a light-hearted feel for many stretches and a refreshing sense of humor. Eastwood himself is absolutely compelling as an old man who suddenly finds himself awash in money from an illegal enterprise and seeing the world from a different angle; here, Clint reminds us how huge a screen presence he has no matter how old he gets.
I'm not sure what many critics have missed with this film but hopefully audiences will take note. Eastwood has given us another great film and one of his best performances ever in this crackerjack drama. Highly recommended.
This new movie , directed and featuring Clint Eastwood, has a good enough story. Eastwood plays a 90 year old man who becomes a mule for a drug cartel, driving and delivering large quantities of cocaine. He begins this job to earn enough money to pay for his family member's expenses, so that he can win their trust again. Later on , he decides to continue with it because the drug cartel bosses and members also seem to respect him, and , and like him. "The Mule" likes to be the centre of attention - something which all the senior people crave for. Cheers , Mr Clint Eastwood, you still shine brightly enough on-screen.
This movie was pretty entertaining, their some scenes I enjoyed laughing and some I was sad. Regret hurts. You wish you could turn back the clock. Clint Eastwood presents that wonderfully in this movie. This is a great film to see.
The Mule is up there with his best films such as Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven, Letters from Iwo Jima, American Sniper and Mystic River. The Mule is an Instant classic. At his age of 88, it is hard to imagine he has many more great films left in him but if not, he will certainly go out on a high note with this masterpiece!
This is one not to be missed. It deserves a lot of attention come Oscar time!
-Cody W. Kipp
A man whose life as a glad-handed flirt is bankrupt when a complete stranger approaches him with a job offer. First the good-ol'-boy follows up on this with no other information that 'he will be driving.' Then the good-ol'-boy starts throwing around wads of CASH, and no one seems the least bit suspicious. Until his ex-wife is on her death-bed. Only then is the question raised.
The foreclosure is paid off - in CASH, and the bank does not question. Huge red flag of illegal activity.
The whole encounter with the K9 officer was unbelievable. The dog gives an alert, but the handler is impatient with him. No K9 handler would be so dismissive of his partner. And no K9 would approach a suspect when on alert. And no handler would not have his dog on voice control.
The granddaughter has a comfortable relationship with her grandfather, despite the estrangement of her mother and grandmother. No back story to account for how this happens.
Granddaughter graduates from cosmetology school (paid by grandfather, of course) with a cap and gown ceremony!
Police officer in Missouri is easily distracted from his inquiries by tubs of popcorn!
Second set of cartel handlers goes from threats and intimidations on first meeting to empathy after their mule has been off the grid for more than a week.
There are more and more. I am generally of the school of thought that 'suspension of disbelief' can be a huge factor in enjoying movies. But there were just too many holes in this movie to sustain this.
Written by Nick Schenk and directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, The Mule (2018) was inspired by a New York Times article "The Sinaloa Cartel's 90-Year Old Drug Mule" by Sam Dolnick. The Mule uses true events to frame a much more compelling story. Bucking the current trend of emotionally monochrome dramas, this film is a rich tapestry of triumph and tragedy, humor and sadness, and guilt and forgiveness.
Earl Stone (Clint Eastwood) is a successful horticulturalist in Peoria, Illinois but neglectful of his family. He finds himself estranged from his wife Mary (Dianne Wiest) and daughter Iris (Alison Eastwood), but is still admired by his granddaughter Ginny (Taissa Farmiga). Mary and he divorce, and after failing to embrace the digital age, Stone's business falls on hard times. He takes a mysterious offer to deliver a package from Mexico to Chicago. With his newfound income, he rebuilds the local VFW after a fire and helps pay for his granddaughter's cosmetology tuition. Meanwhile, he frustrates his cartel handler, Julio (Ignacio Serricchio) with his unpredictable behavior.
Things get complicated when DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper) and his partner Trevino (Michael Peña) flip a cartel employee and he tips them off about a successful drug mule known as "Tata", or grandfather. The unassuming elderly white man with a clean record was able to slip under law enforcement's radar. At 90 years of age and with the DEA on his tail, Earl Stone is running out of time to reverse his fortunes and reconcile with his family.
The Mule is loosely based on the life of Leo Sharp, a WW2 veteran and Detroit-based horticulturalist and daylily farmer who began working as a drug mule for the Sinaloa cartel after his business fell on hard times. His life of crime made him a millionaire. Sharp was finally caught in 2011 at the age of 87, pled guilty to drug conspiracy, and served one year in prison before being let out due to his declining health. He died in December 2016.
Most of the events depicting Earl Stone's family life were not based on his historic counterpart. Sharp had a wife and three children, and was still married when he died. The filmmakers changed the years in which the events took place, and changed Sharp's home state from Michigan to Illinois. These changes, particularly when it comes to the main character's personal life, substantially improved the story and added much-needed depth, drama, and substance. The filmmakers didn't set out to tell Leo Sharp's story; they used it as a springboard to tell their own.
It's difficult not to compare The Mule with Clint Eastwood's 2008 film Gran Torino. We don't see many elderly protagonists on screen anymore, and Eastwood seems to have carved a new niche for himself late in his career. Like the character of Walt Kowalski, Leo Sharp is an emotionally reserved and politically-incorrect elderly white man having a difficult time adjusting to the modern world. Both are Korean War veterans, and both experience the loss of a spouse.
While Kowalski sacrifices himself to remove a threat to his community, Sharp embraces a life of crime to improve his financial situation and help others in need. Sharp is no hero, but he learns the importance of placing family before his own ambition, finds forgiveness, and rekindles his relationship with his family. The Mule's message is deeply personal, and therefore is the more emotionally impactful of the two films.
The Mule opened to mostly favorable reviews from critics and audiences alike. Cynical viewers might dismiss parts of this film as overly sentimental, but you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by some aspect of the story. It has a 60% rating from critics and 72% audience favorability on RottenTomatoes, and pulled in $17.5 million in its opening weekend (finishing second at the box office). With what might be his last film, 88-year-old Clint Eastwood cements his place as one of the greatest actors and directors of our time.
Eastwood's second film of 2018 as a director (after THE 15:17 TO PARIS), THE MULE is based on a true story written by Sam Dolnick of the New York Times . Eastwood portrays Earl Stone, a Korean war veteran who, in his pursuit of horticulture, has failed his own family as a father and a husband, missing important weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries. And unfortunately, his life is about to take a dark, nightmarish turn as, being strapped for cash, he takes on the job of a "mule", or drug-runner, for a sinister Mexican drug cartel kingpin (Andy Garcia), Garcia's "crew", such as it is, operates out of a garage in El Paso, just a few miles from the Mexican border, and they force him to transport their sinister "product" through the heartland of the U.S. to Chicago, and to do so as to not to attract any unwanted attention from the DEA. Paralleling this, two DEA agents (Bradley Cooper; Michael Pena) are tracking the activities of Garcia's cartel; but it is only late in the game that the DEA, and Cooper in particular, realize that Eastwood (referred to as "Tata" by Garcia's employees) is the one being forced to run those drugs, to the tune of a couple of hundred kilograms per month on average. In the meantime, Eastwood tries to patch things up with his family, particularly with his dying ex-wife (Dianne Wiest), all the while being watched and then hunted by the cartel and the DEA.
Nick Schenk, who wrote the screenplay for Eastwood's 2008 acting/directing hit GRAN TORINO, handles the screenwriting chores here; and while there are quite a few ethnic slurs and a certain amount of misogyny, THE MULE in general is a deeply humanistic film about a totally inhumane situation in which Eastwood has to do the one thing that his most hard-edged fans sometimes have had a difficult time accepting, which is to show a lot of vulnerability. Frequently, his character has guns pointed at him, as opposed to the other way around; and he can't do a whole lot about that except to follow orders, even though he knows he'll be going to jail for life (at the age of 90) if he's caught. Cooper (who was the star of AMERICAN SNIPER) does an extremely credible performance as the DEA agent, as does Pena as his partner. The film also features solid supporting turns from Laurence Fishburne, Alison Eastwood (Clint's real-life daughter), Richard Herd, and Loren Dean.
One must go after Eastwood's films, regardless of what capacity he serves in, because he is not going to be around forever. And while many might find THE MULE to be a touch offensive, ethnically speaking (which it is, but it befits the situation), even with that said, it is another notch in Eastwood's belt, both in terms of his acting and his directing.