by Ian Morton
Usually opting to explore difficult character pieces, The Mule is a step in a rather different direction for veteran actor/director Clint Eastwood, that often feels more schmaltzy than satisfying.
The plot follows Earl Stone (Eastwood), a former horticulturalist who turns to the drug trade once the internet proves too much a competitor to contend with. Vying to prove himself a success, the veteran flower farmer becomes a drug mule, quickly becoming the most successful and efficient runner for a local drug gang.
Inspired by a New York Times magazine article, the central story has a solid core but trips up when trying to flesh out the bones of the true-life adventure. In almost an attempt to merge his TV successes with his Eastwood successes, writer Nick Schenk misses the mark as the character narratives designed to give depth are underdeveloped and never really move close enough to one another for the emotional ending it strives to achieve.
As ever, Eastwood’s direction remains fairly flawless, giving us very much what you would expect to see. His infamously gritty approach mostly works here, particularly in those moments when characters have an obstacle to overcome but is stretched to its limits during Eastwood’s attempts at redemptive familial set pieces.
Overall, it’s not the worst movie ever made, but it’s certainly not the first movie to reach for on a Saturday night. An ageing Eastwood proves that he still have gas in the tank and an eye for the cinematic but some of the story elements that play outside of his particular skill set prove to be too different to the directors solid approach. Once all is said and done, the story is much more an enjoyable read on the commute to work than a feature to dedicate a whole evening to.
The Mule is out of VOD, DVD and Blu-ray June 3rd!
—On the Disc—
Other than the film, there is a little here to get your teeth into other than a ‘Making of’ documentary and music video.
The documentary is an interesting, albeit short, insight into how the film was made. There are some interesting nuggets of information that would please the avid Eastwood fan – particularly a little insight into costume design – but is ultimately entirety.
The music video of the main theme, Toby Keith’s ‘Don’t Let the Old Man In’, strangely doubles up as the movies deleted scenes feature. There are a lot snippets here not in the actual movie but much like the film, delivers exactly what you would expect.
Not a lot here but enough to waste the 15 minute between film end and bed!
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