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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews The Mule

January 24th, 2019 by Andrew McCarroll Comments

The Mule (15)
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Dianne Wiest, Andy Garcia, Alison Eastwood & Taissa Farmiga
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Running time: 1hr 56mins


Broke, alone and facing foreclosure on his business, 90-year-old horticulturist Earl Stone takes a job as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel.

There is a line in the first season of House of Cards where Frank Underwood notes: “Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after ten years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who does not see the difference.”

Stepping behind the camera for the thirty-eighth time, as well as in front for the sixty-third, the line might well have been written with Eastwood in mind.

Six decades into his career, his name still commands awe and respect and unlike his contemporaries, it is not because of what he has done but because of what he continues to do.

The Mule is a beautifully made road movie devoid of ego where Eastwood shows every line on his face (and arms) – a softer version of his openly racist character in Gran Torino. here his character, Earl, is still – for all his charm – too quick to put his needs above all others; a selfish, thoughtless man who, thanks to Eastwood’s mischievous charisma, you can see why his family still don’t want to fully cast him aside.

As entertaining as the film is, it doesn’t seem to know quite what it wants to be: it’s laid back and funny – an exchange with Andy Garcia’s cartel kingpin a particular highlight – but at the same time it serves as an odd mix of therapeutic confession as Eastwood tells Bradley Cooper’s DEA agent that he regrets putting work above family and Eastwood’s real-life daughter, one of at least eight children from numerous women, shares the screen with him just to add to the poignancy of his words.

We never get to see the stark reality of the job Earl is doing the while, yes, it’s fun to see the 88-year-old star casually eating ice cream while his cartel handlers freak out, the movie overlooks the ultimate destination of his cargo and the pain and suffering that Earl is blissfully delivering.

What it is though, is a charming, funny and at times tense movie that puts the story over spectacle. In that regard, Clint Eastwood remains forever the outlaw.

4 out of 5 Nerds

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Andrew McCarroll never quite built on the dizzying career heights that he hit at 6 years old, when as a member of the “Ghostbusters” he would charge his neighbours to remove any unwanted spectres. Now retired from slaying spooks, he spends his time obsessing over superheroes (especially Batman) and devouring shows like Dexter, Game of Thrones and Archer in a manner that would make Galactus proud. You can follow his rants on twitter @andymc1983