Clint Eastwood Shows Us He Still Got It
Clint Eastwood has been an actor and director longer than most of us have been alive. Even at 88 years old Eastwood is still giving us amazing movies with his second release of the year, The Mule. The film as well as Eastwood’s character is inspired by the real-life story of World War II veteran Leo Sharp who was a drug courier. The man was given the nickname among the cartel of El Tata which is like a way of calling him the dad. Before he was caught, he had delivered over a ton of cocaine across the United States. The film shows the story of his start into the business and how he became the mule for the cartel.
The Mule starts off by introducing us to Earl Stone, a 78-year old horticulturalist at an award ceremony for himself. Though we see his granddaughter looking for him on her wedding day he hangs out at the bar after the ceremony, never to show up. Cut to 12 years later and Stone lost his farm and his house due to people using the internet to buy flowers instead of his business. He tries to go over to his granddaughter’s engagement party only to have his daughter and ex-wife yell at him. With nowhere left to turn to he accepts help from a Latino guest named Rico (Victor Rasuk) at the party who said he can make money by just driving. Stone finds out that a job all about driving may have more dangers then he thought as he learns that the packages, he’s delivering for the cartel are illegal drugs during one of his trips. All the while, DEA agents are on his trail and want nothing more than to bust him and the whole operation.
One thing that really stood out in this film were the amazing performances given by the actors. Especially by Clint Eastwood and Dianne Wiest. My only wish is that we got to see more of Wiest’s performance. She wasn’t in much of the movie but whenever she was on screen her performance was incredible to watch. You could see the pain on her face whenever she saw Stone. The moment we saw her weak expression as she stared at Stone near the end, was difficult to watch from how real it felt. Eastwood, however, gave an amazing performance but was less emotional. Instead he gave the character Stone a charisma that only someone like Eastwood could give. Every line he said felt very smooth and natural, and he felt like the old man that he was.
With a film that deals with such serious topics like drug trafficking one might infer that the film is a serious action movie with tons of suspense and close calls, but when you watch the film it instead is more of a feel-good road trip film with high stakes. While watching the film it goes at a very leisurely pace showing more of the fun times that Stone has along the way, than the DEA catching up to him or the Cartel threatening him. It felt like most of the movie was him driving and enjoyably singing his older songs or going to stops and flirting with the cutest girl in the area. It always felt fun to watch the charming old man flirt with girls so well that he has not one, but two threesomes in the film. Plus watching him talk to and become best friends with almost all the Cartel members that he meets, to the point that he is invited to parties with the boss, is such a fun moment.
Despite its amazing performances as well as fun feel to the film, the actual writing itself felt lazy in a few areas. The main area being in the character development of Stone. When his character has a change of heart at the end of the film it seems unwarranted and out of nowhere. At no point did his character seem to have any actual growth and instead just kind of became a better person in the end without really earning it. The only time Stone did anything that was even close to nice was when he was saving a place that he goes to all the time from closing but even that feels just like he’s doing it for himself.
Another area that the writing is lacking in, is in any of the character resolutions. Throughout the film there are many close relationships that Stone forms through his charm and many of them feel like they are leading to something only to end suddenly with no closure to any of the relationships that he has formed except for maybe one or two. Many of the relationships that he formed with the cartel members felt they were fun to watch and as their friendships grew and grew it really felt like they were leading places but none of them really led anywhere and were dropped and ignored. The best examples of this is his friendship with Julio (Ignacio Serricchio), the son of the cartel head. The friendship with him seemed to develop so strongly and they even gave a way that their friendship could grow when Stone talked about how Julio should quit the cartel, but the friendship never amounted to anything and felt disappointing in the end. The problem is that the other plot lines were barely showed and were replaced with tons of driving montages. Even the two of the main plots with the DEA agents and the family felt weak because it felt like they didn’t have enough screen time and neither did any of the family, making any form of closure in their plot lines feel random and unexpected.
The film itself is a fun movie to watch, at no point does Eastwood’s charisma fail but it just doesn’t make up for the poor writing that can be seen the entire way through the film.