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April 26, 2019

The Mule (2018) --- "Nobody Runs Forever"

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
    Directed by Clint Eastwood (The 15:17 to Paris, Sully), written by Nick Schenk (The Judge, Gran Torino), and inspired by the New York Times Magazine Article "The Sinaloa Cartel's 90-Year Old Drug Mule" by Sam Dolnick, The Mule (2018) is an entertaining and compelling film loosely based on the life of Leo Sharp, a WW2 veteran and Detroit-based horticulturalists who began working as a drug mule for the Sinaloa cartel after his business fell on hard times. Earl Stone (Clint Eastwood) is a successful horticulturalist in Peoria, Illinois but his success has caused him to be estranged from his ex-wife Mary (Dianne Wiest) and daughter Iris (Alison Eastwood), leaving his granddaughter Ginny (Taissa Farmiga) as his only admirer. After he fails to embrace the digital age, Stone’s business falls on hard times and he decides to take a mysterious offer to deliver a package from Mexico to Chicago. With his newfound income Stone decides to put the money to good use by helping those he cares about and all the while his cartel handler Julio (Ignacio Serricchio) is getting more and more frustrated with his unpredictable behavior. Meanwhile, DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper) and his partner Trevino (Michael Peña) manage to flip a cartel employee who tips them off about a successful drug mule known as "Tata"(AKA grandfather), who proves to be hard to track down then they thought. The unassuming 90-year-old white man with a clean record was able to slip under law enforcement's radar. With the DEA on his tail and the cartel tightening the leash, Earl Stone is running out of time to change his fortunes and reconcile with his family. Will he succeed in escaping the DEA and the cartel? Or if not, which one will get to him first?
   As a normal American, Clint Eastwood has been known for being a hard-assed political right-winger with a tough exterior much like his famous character Dirty Harry. As an actor and a director, he has been known for taking on challenging material that reminds the audience of what great cinema truly is and he does so again in his most recent film. The Mule is loosely based off of true events, meaning that there were a number of changes made to the film’s story in order to make it a much more compelling story. The real Earl Stone, Leo Sharp, lived in Michigan with wife and three children, plus he was still married at the time of his death. The filmmakers changed the year in which the events took place, changed Michigan to Illinois, and also made substantial changes to the main character's personal life. All of these changes allowed for the film to deter from the typical emotional and monochrome dramas that plague cinemas and thus adding much-needed depth, drama, and substance to the story. In other words, The Mule is not a recount of Leo Sharp’s story, it is merely the inspiration and starting point for the filmmakers to tell their own tale. As a result, The Mule tells a dramatic, grim, and slightly light-hearted story about triumph, tragedy, humor, and sadness.
   The Mule features director Clint Eastwood portraying the main character Earl Stone and he definitely plays his age with his usual style; a gruff presentation with a gritty tone, edgy words, and a blunt approach that lacks any filter. This film also adds some lightness to his role as comic relief that cut through all the tension. From the disappointed family members - Alison Eastwood, Taissa Farmiga, and Dianne Wiest - to the DEA agents - Bradley Cooper, Michael Peña, and Laurence Fishburne - to the cartel members - Andy Garcia and Ignacio Serricchio - the supporting cast help make the story believable and play off of Eastwood’s tough character quite well.
   Overall, The Mule (2019) is one of my all time favorite Clint Eastwood films. Eastwood has a perchance for taking on challenging material and delivering something that is worthwhile, further cementing his place as one of the greatest actors and directors of our time. The film’s story deters from the typical emotional and monochrom dramas by creating a compelling and dramatic story that has substance, character depth, and much needed light-heartedness. The cast performances were solid and compelling, enhancing and complimenting Eastwood’s performance. With a 60% critics rating, 72% audience rating, earning $17.5 million in its opening weekend, and finishing second at the box office, The Mule is a must see film that I highly recommend.

Final Vote --- 10 of 10 stars
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Movies Similar
15:17 to Paris (2018)
12 Strong (2018)
Gran Tarino (2008)

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