The Mule

First Hit: Film lagged and spent too much time on an aging Clint Eastwood.

I was looking forward to seeing this film, but as it wound down, I realized that I simply was watching an old man be an old man making choices.

I like Eastwood and here as Earl Stone who is a horticulturist that’s running his own business, he’s good. However, as we begin to explore his life, we discover he was once married, didn’t show up to his daughter’s wedding, likes to be the life of the party, and he slowly becomes afraid of the internet because he knows it going to ruin his business.

As his flower business fails, he needs money, so he turns to driving drugs for a dealer. At first, it’s small quantities, which he does easily. Then he starts moving larger and larger amounts of cocaine.

Eventually, the head of the cartel becomes impressed with this old guy who seems to be able to easily move drugs around the country. After meeting the head, he moves the largest shipment ever moved to a mid-west city.

In the meantime, he’s being looked for by the DEA who need a bust to prove their worth. Leading the team of men is an outsider DEA Agent named Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper) and a local DEA Agent (Michael Pena).

However, the story seems to be focused on Earl, when we’ve got Pena, Cooper, and Laurence Fishburne (as a DEA Special Agent) who are great actors that have stories to tell the audience as well.

Additionally, the audience gets cheated on a background of Earl’s family with former wife Mary (Dianne Wiest), daughter Iris (Alison Eastwood), and granddaughter Ginny (Taissa Farmiga). It could have been compelling to share more about this. Why hire great actors if they only have small, almost meaningless roles?

To me this was the downfall of the film. We spent a lot of time with Earl driving down the highway when backstories of all these characters could have been brought forth for our enjoyment.

Eastwood was good, but he seems to either lack the fortitude to take on strong roles or he wanted it to be this fumblingly self-focused old man trying to make a living and be seen by others as king of the hill. Farmiga was strong as the granddaughter who believed in him. Wiest was great, but there was so little of her. Alison Eastwood was OK as Earl’s daughter. Cooper was OK in a limited but pivotal role. I think he needed to become more of the story. Pena was, as always, an excellent sidekick. Fishburne was strong as the leading Special Agent. Andy Garcia was excellent as the drug lord. Nick Schenk wrote this film from an New York Times article. Eastwood directed himself in this film and it appears he’s lost his touch.

Overall: This was a disappointing film, lacking in suspense as well as developing scenes.