An almost 90-year-old man becoming the number one drug mule for a dangerous Mexican cartel?
It’s a statement that sounds preposterous, but not only is it the basis of Clint Eastwood’s new movie, it’s also true.
The Mule, which marks Eastwood’s first appearance in front of the camera since 2012’s (underrated) Trouble with the Curve, tells the (dramatised) true story of Leo Sharp, an 87-year-old war veteran who was busted hauling hundreds of kilos of cocaine for El Chapo’s cartel.
In the film, Sharp is called Earl Stone, and his criminal antics take place over a few months rather than a decade.
Earl was a dedicated horticulturalist, but the rise of the internet and at-your-fingertips flower delivery ruined his business. His commitment to his work, where he was a star of the industry, alienated him from his family and left him alone and broke.
If you’re a fan of Eastwood movies, you won’t go wrong with The Mule.
It’s quietly humorous, filled with tense moments and even a bit of emotional value.
It also boasts a stacked supporting cast of Oscar winning and nominated actors.
Man of the moment Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born) features as the DEA agent in charge of the operation to find Earl (nicknamed Tata – ‘grandfather’ in Spanish – by cartel members) and delivers a predictably good performance. The always-excellent Michael Pena (Ant-Man and the Wasp) plays his right-hand man while Laurence Fishburne (John Wick 2) is their boss.
Dianne Wiest (TV’s Life in Pieces) is Earl’s estranged ex-wife, Taissa Farmiga (The Nun) as his hopeful granddaughter and Eastwood’s real-life daughter Alison as his movie daughter Iris.
On the cartel side of things, we have Andy Garcia (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), Clifton Collins Jr (TV’s Westworld) and Ignacio Serricchio (TV’s Bones).
While The Mule is not going to be one of Eastwood’s most memorable directorial efforts – it is certainly not in the league of Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby or even more recent films like Sully, American Sniper and Changeling – it is still enjoyable and engaging.
The performances are good and the story is compelling.