Movie Review: The Mule (2019)

Clint Eastwood directs and stars.

Better than a blockbuster, this movie is worth your time. Wait! Don’t leave! I’m not saying it will make you think. It’s not an art film or a documentary. It’s a darn good story. And we love stories.

A means to an end

Earl Stone, 90, needs money. The bank foreclosed on his home and flower farm and his family will have nothing to do with him. So he decides to deliver mystery bags for money. He continues to do the job even after learning of its illegal nature because the money helps his family and his community.

It’s about people

This is where the film’s nature begins to show. Earl treats criminals and regular people the same—with kindness and respect. It contrasts with the FBI agents’ coolness toward the snitch and the cartel’s brutality— shoving, threatening, swearing, and killing.

A master storyteller

The Mule pulls the threads of family and relationships together to form a textured story. For an actor who became famous for violent, shooting films, Eastwood is surprisingly good at this other kind of storytelling. American Sniper (2014) and The 15:17 to Paris (2018) are two other movies he’s directed which stand out for their humanity. {Sully may too, but I haven’t seen it.}

Usually, stories are better in books, where subtleties and histories can be explored without limits on time or audience attention span. But Eastwood used film for story pacing and pure acting. It’s a refreshing use of film M. Night Shyamalan and Alfred Hitchcock also mastered.

Better than candy

American Sniper, The 15:17 to Paris, and The Mule revealed a bit of truth viewers can cherish, which is more meaningful than a two-hour distraction.

Clint Eastwood tells a good story.

Did this movie cause law enforcement to look more closely at older drivers traveling known drug routes?