The Mule is the latest cinematographic effort of Clint Eastwood, who’s now almost 90 years old. Not only has it produced and directed the movie, but he’s also its protagonist. Clint (almost) always deserves respect, so I went to the cinema with the best intentions, even though I had read some not-so-enthusiastic reviews. And what about it?
I’m happy that I saw the movie, but I admit that The Mule didn’t really impress me. Let’s start with the plot: Clint Eastwood plays Earl, an old-fashioned veteran who has always dedicated himself to work and finds himself in a terrible relationship with his family. And so far we are on familiar ground, the character is practically a slightly revisited version of Walt Kowalski from Gran Torino (2008)! Even the screenwriter of the film, Nick Schenk, is the same, and in promotional interviews he openly says that the protagonist of The Mule is nothing but “the other side of Walt Kowalski“, in the sense that the veterans that he has met are either bitter like Kowalski or sweet with everyone like Earl, if we exclude his relationship with the family.
Anyway, when Earl is forced to shut down due to Internet competition, he agrees to be a courier for a Mexican drug cartel without thinking twice about it. In fact, not “a” Mexican cartel, but rather “the” Mexican cartel. Why do I specify that? Because in this film everything is two-dimensional: all Mexicans sell drugs and use bad language, the DEA works hard but gets few results, the drugs go from an unspecified point A to an unspecified point B and turn into bundles of money… Everything is two-dimensional except for Earl and his family. In short, the focus of the story clearly is Earl, but unfortunately there is a very uninteresting drugs-related plot which takes up most of the two hours of film that eventually gets a little heavy to watch.
For almost two hours we follow Earl in his countless trips from point A to point B mentioned above and… they’re all the same: Clint drives, Clint sings along with the radio, Clint parks, Clint moves away from the van, Clint returns to the van and checks the money, Clint drives, Clint parks… It wouldn’t have been that bad if there had been some tension during these trips transporting hundreds of kilograms of cocaine throughout the United States, but no, it all goes extremely smoothly. Meanwhile, agent Bates (Bradley Cooper) does all he can to stop drug trafficking and despite an informant in the cartel and a very compliant boss (Lawrence Fishburne), he can’t find the drug dealers. Too bad that in the film this is only sketched! It’s not that I expected Michael Mann’s Heat (1995) with Eastwood and Cooper instead of De Niro and Pacino, but in The mule all the characters except the protagonist are just sketched, they almost don’t exist. Fishburne, Cooper, and Peña have very little material to work with and their characters are not at all memorable.
Not to mention the Mexicans! They are all the same, they’re basically interchangeable, except for Andy García who practically has a cameo. And then during the film he gets killed because he’s considered too soft by his subordinates… just when at the same time we know that the DEA, the US anti-drug agency, is completely lost! But if things went so badly for the cartel, why are they so bad for the DEA too? There’s something that doesn’t work… that is, there’s a plot that tries to make things a little more compelling with a “twist” coming from nothing and leading to nothing. Come to think of it, even the character of Earl is interesting only when he interacts with his family members (the ex-wife played by Dianne Wiest, the daughter played by Eastwood’s true daughter, Alison, and the granddaughter played by Taissa Farmiga). Instead, when dealing with the drug dealers (sorry for the pun), he doesn’t show any emotion, not even the first time when he’s received by people with big machine guns. As if nothing had happened, Earl speaks to them as if they were ordinary kids, just like he used to do with his Mexican workers at the flower plantation. I would have expected at least a little fear!
So, what about this movie? As said, it’s the story of a man who after dedicating his life to work realizes too late that there are more important things, in fact, only one: family. And it goes well for him, because while at the beginning of the film his daughter doesn’t talk to him and the ex-wife doesn’t even want to see him, at the end the latter has forgiven him and the daughter talks to him and tells him that she loves him. So the take-home message seems to be that it’s never too late! And what else? Clint driving. Come on baby, gonna take a little ride down, down by the ocean side… Ciao!
- The movie trailer su Youtube
- The movie page on Internet Movie DataBase
- Movie review on A motion picture list
- Movie review on The movie and me
- Movie review on Red goes to the movies
- Movie review on Angry usher reviews
- Movie review on Wado reviews
- Movie review on Scriptophile
- Movie review on This is my creation
- Movie review on Screened web
- Movie review on Discussing film
- Movie review on Let’s go to the movies
- Movie review on One mann’s movies
- Movie review on The m0vie blog