Believe it or not, it has been a decade since the release of “Gran Torino” that the Hollywood icon directed, produced, and starred in a movie, until the release of 2018’s “The Mule”. While Eastwood’s return to the screen drew me to the theater, he is also surrounded by an impressive supporting cast featuring Bradley Cooper, Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne, and Andy Garcia.
“The Mule” is inspired by the true story of a World War II veteran named Leo Sharp, who became a drug mule for the Sinaloa Cartel. In the film, Eastwood portrays a version of this character named Earl Stone, a man alienated by his family and desperate for money due to the foreclosure of his plant business. Stone takes the opportunity to become a mule and begins moving large amounts of illegal drugs across the Midwest, hoping to use the earnings to repair the deteriorating relationship with his family. Meanwhile, he is being heavily pursued by a pair of DEA agents (Bradley Cooper & Michael Pena).
“The Mule” is a very gripping drama, especially in the first half of the movie. As the plot progressed, there were a few far-fetched moments that made the story seem a little bit unconvincing in parts. However, this didn’t take away from an overall positive theme of redemption on display throughout the film. This character represented a near-perfect role for a distinct actor like Eastwood and he absolutely capitalized on it. There was a surprising amount of humor blended in as well, particularly in some of the generational barriers that the title character encounters. Additionally, Bradley Cooper and Michael Pena supplemented the movie with their own charismatic performances and quality acting chemistry.
All things considered, I think that “The Mule” is well worth a viewing and does a very good job of pulling the drama out of this interesting true story. More importantly, the film genuinely illustrates that it is never too late for a positive change in life. Time will only tell if Mr. Eastwood has another project of this sort in store for us. That being said, I certainly think this would be a respectable final performance of a truly legendary career.