I was raised on a steady diet of Clint Eastwood’s iconic 60s and 70s movies. These were mostly his Westerns, both those of the spaghetti and non-spaghetti persuasion, as well as his cop movies. Though Eastwood has gone on to be a noted director for a wide range of acclaimed films–many of which I have enjoyed–I always still think of Clint as, well, The Man with No Name, Dirty Harry, and Josey Wales.
As Eastwood’s career has shifted behind the camera, his own appearances on the other side of the lens have become somewhat rare. Mary-Esther recently suggested I review his latest movie–The Mule (which he stars in, directed, and produced)–and I’m glad I did! It was an interesting change of pace for him that still plays to his strengths as a performer. Thanks for the great suggestion, Mary-Esther!
Earl (Eastwood) is an amiable but somewhat grouchy horticulturist in his 80s who should be retired by now, but he continues his business because it is something he is really passionate about and because he’s got to pay the bills somehow. For his mostly estranged family, his business is an excuse to dodge responsibility and quality time with them, but Earl never has seen it that way, even if their accusations have a ring of truth to them.
Once his business fizzles out and Earl still needs to make a living, he accepts an offer to drive mysterious deliveries around the country. He has a stellar driving record, and the fact he’s elderly and ostensibly law-abiding means nobody (including him at first) suspects he is smuggling drugs. Once Earl realizes what he’s gotten himself into, he doesn’t really have much of a choice to continue, but he quickly understands he is in far over his head.
This movie is based on a true story and is interesting in that regard alone. As I have come to expect from Eastwood’s directorial efforts, he gets good performances out of his actors, including Bradley Cooper as the law enforcement agent chasing him down, Andy Garcia as his cartel boss, and his own daughter Allison as his estranged daughter in the movie. Eastwood himself is never someone I considered a versatile actor, but he is very good within his range, and this role fits him well, though it is definitely much less of a tough-guy role than is commonly associated with him. (And that’s probably for the best because, now in his late 80s, he looked noticeably frailer in this movie than I’ve ever seen him.)
Since Eastwood is one of the most iconic action stars of the past fifty years, I was surprised at how low-key the action was in this movie. That’s not to say it is boring, but the pacing is more character-driven and not necessarily as action-packed (or violent) as you’d expect for a movie about drug trafficking. I thought that actually added to the movie’s appeal since it was not what I was expecting, but it might disappoint those looking for a more traditional action movie.
If you like somewhat offbeat crime dramas or Clint Eastwood, you definitely should check this movie out!
What have you been watching recently? Have you seen The Mule? What’s your favorite Clint Eastwood movie? (I’ll tell you mine in the comments. 🙂 ) As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog to learn more about the movie or to place it on hold.