A 90-year-old horticulturist and Korean War veteran is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Illinois for a Mexican drug cartel.
THE MULE is a gentle movie. Even though there is violence in it, none of it is gratuitous, and it is not overly explicit. Clint Eastwood is very good as Earl Stone (the mule) who is caught up trying to redeem himself by making money and helping others in need all the while neglecting his family — something he has been doing all his life. As he gradually becomes increasingly entangled in the world of drug running, we see his changing attitudes to his family relationships. It’s a call to all of us to think more carefully about how we show love to those who mean the most to us and the temptation that calls many to put work above those we care about. It’s a recurring theme in movies, but Eastwood has refreshingly tackled this issue. The real problem with the story is the naïvety that Earl demonstrates in the early scenes. It is hard to believe that anyone at his age and with his experience wouldn’t know precisely what he is getting into. And it is this beginning that undermines the overall quality of the story. The last act is by far the best and the most powerful. So while THE MULE is not a great film, it is still worth seeing and is directed and acted with sensitivity by Eastwood. It’s not a gripping film, but its themes will stay with you. Flawed but enjoyable.