The Mule (2018): Clint Eastwood’s Second Disappointment of 2018

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“The Mule” is directed by Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Sully) and stars himself alongside Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy, A Star Is Born), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), Michael Peña (American Hustle, Crash), Dianne Wiest (Life in Pieces, Law & Order), and Andy Garcia (Geostorm, Ocean’s Eleven). This movie is based on a true story and an article from The New York Time called “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule.” It’s a about a guy by the name of Earl Stone, who is a war veteran, and he claims that he made the mistake of putting work before family. He missed a couple of important events, he cared for his plants more than his children, and he seems to be always doing something that will keep him from his family. Throughout the film, we see Stone trying to get cash for transporting loads on his truck under the responsibility of a Mexican drug cartel.

I haven’t seen much of Clint Eastwood’s work. As a film buff, or at least that’s what I like to call myself, part of me is slightly surprised that I have not looked into more of his stuff. I have seen “Sully,” “The 15:17 to Paris,” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Now that “The Mule” is in cinemas everywhere, it allows me to dive deeper into seeing how talented Clint Eastwood really is, not only as an actor, but as a director. What I’ve seen from him acting-wise is pretty serviceable, including what I’ve seen from him in this movie. However, thus far, I have seen him direct competently, but there are other directors I prefer compared to him. I much prefer the work of filmmakers like Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Memento), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs), and Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land). While this is at times, a nice looking, and rather well done film from a technical and acting perspective, the fact is that I was honestly disappointed.

When I saw “The 15:17 To Paris” this year, I felt the same way as I do now. Clint Eastwood is a household name in Hollywood. But throughout a portion of the year, a part of me thought that was just Eastwood’s appetizer to get to the real film he wants to tackle in 2018. After all, the movie was released in February, which is one of the dumpster fire months for movies, so there’s a good chance that either the studio or Eastwood himself may have been dissatisfied over the outcome of what eventually became “The 15:17 To Paris.” The good news was that this was not the only film to be released in 2018 that is directed by Clint Eastwood. Maybe “The Mule” would be better than “The 15:17 To Paris.” Well, it was, but that’s not saying much because, again, I was disappointed.

Let’s talk about Clint Eastwood in this film, he does a good job performance-wise, but when it comes to his character, I have mixed thoughts about him. I can understand the way he felt at certain times. The way the character manages to develop is also charming. But there are certain qualities attached to him that are kind of off-putting. He would occasionally tell people they are stupid for using cell phones and the Internet, and there’s actually a scene that makes him come off as a less likable version of Hugh Hefner. I say that because Clint Eastwood is in his eighties, he’s playing a character around his age range. There’s a scene where we see him with some chicks in a bedroom, they’re all seducing him and removing his clothes, it’s not traditionally something that I would pay to see. Granted, “The Mule” is not a family movie, and I never asked for it to be. But I can’t recall the last time I said, I’m gonna go see Clint Eastwood f*ck someone twice as young as him. I also will say, age is just a number, and I’m not against someone dating a person much younger or older than them as long as it makes both partners of the relationship happy, but seeing an eighty-something year old Clint Eastwood engaging in sexual behavior with women that are much younger then him is not even close to my cup of tea. I don’t hate sex in movies, and this is based on a true story, so it could be worse, but it is cringeworthy as an idea.

I will say, despite my gripes with Eastwood’s character, I wouldn’t consider him the worst character in the movie, because a good portion of the film involves us as an audience getting a glance at the DEA investigators played by Bradley Cooper, Michael Peña, and Laurence Fishburne. I really didn’t care for any of these people. After all, the only time I legit gave a flying f*ck about them was towards the end of the movie. Oh yeah, I even completely forgot Laurence Fishburne’s character was even in the movie! Why are we here?!

This movie seems to pack in the moral that family is more important than work. It seems to suggest that being a part of a group of people you are attached to by relation is more important than being famous or busy. I will say, as a freshman in college, I did not choose to be busy for five days a week, other classmates who got to submit class choices before me did. But that’s not the point, my biggest wonder about the film is if Clint Eastwood has ever applied this moral that he seems to be hammering in towards his daily life. Granted, Eastwood did not write “The Mule” or the source material which it is based on, so therefore it cannot completely be his vision, but I wonder if someone as famous as Eastwood has been through his life making a similar mistake to this movie’s main character. Part of me wonders if Eastwood even relates to him. The regret of not seeing your family as much as one would desire can make for a compelling character, but the thing about Clint Eastwood is that he is such a famous actor and director. Not to mention he’s cheated many times. Granted, things are not as always as they seem, people change, and Eastwood is portraying a “character,” not himself. Nevertheless, despite a fine performance, part of me doesn’t completely buy Eastwood as his character.

I will say though, while I may be bashing this movie a little bit, one of the biggest positives I will point out is that there is one scene, I won’t specify, that has to do with death. It shows how people come together in a time of need, the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen when you’re going to die, not to mention the fear of dying itself. That is the best part of the movie and is probably the part I’ll admire the most as I reflect on “The Mule.”

In the end, “The Mule” is yet another dissatisfying attempt at a film from Clint Eastwood this year. I was talking with some family members as the year was coming to a close, and there are a few people I know who were anticipating and excited for “The Mule” to come out. I don’t know how many of them saw the movie by now, but in all seriousness, I don’t think got much good out of seeing “The Mule.” It’s not the worst movie of the year, not even close to be completely honest, but for a movie with Eastwood’s name on it, it seems that there could have been a lot more delivered to provide satisfaction than what was given to me as an audience member. I will say though, the acting is five times better than “The 15:17 To Paris” so that’s a plus! I’m gonna give “The 15:17 To Paris” a 6/10. Thanks for reading this review, pretty soon I’m gonna have my review up for “Instant Family,” a comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and from the same director who did “Daddy’s Home,” also starring Mark Wahlberg. Also, after I finish that review, be sure to stay tuned for my top 10 BEST movies of 2018 and my top 10 WORST movies of 2018! I will also say that the Golden Globes are on this Sunday, so if you want to see me talk about them, I might do a recap, but if I don’t, there’s a high chance I’ll be livetweeting throughout the show. To see my potential livetweets to the Golden Globes this Sunday, follow me on Twitter at @JackDrees, and feel free to hit the notification bell if you want Golden Globes tweets shoved right in your face. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Mule?” What did you think about it? Or, since Clint Eastwood has worked on both “The 15:17 To Paris” and “The Mule,” which of these two movies do you prefer? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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