The Mule is a 2018 American crime drama film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, who also plays the lead role. The screenplay, by Nick Schenk, is based on The New York Times article “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule” by Sam Dolnick, which recounts the story of Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran who became a drug courier for the Sinaloa Cartel in his 80s. Along with Eastwood, the film stars Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Dianne Wiest, and Andy García. It is Eastwood’s first acting project since 2012’s Trouble with the Curve, and his first starring role in a film directed by him since 2008’s Gran Torino. Filming began in June 2018, taking place in Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, with other film locations in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Earl Stone, in his 80s, is an award-winning horticulturist and Korean War veteran in Peoria, Illinois. He is facing financial ruin and is estranged from his ex-wife, Mary, and daughter, Iris, for always putting work before family. He’s still on friendly terms with his granddaughter Ginny, and attends her wedding rehearsal. Desperate for money at his age, he is urged by a friend of one of Ginny’s bridesmaids to become a drug mule for transporting cocaine through Illinois for a Mexican drug cartel. Due to his advanced aged, being a war vet, clear criminal record and always driving within the limits is soon trusted with huge amounts of drugs and paid large amounts of cash. He pays off his debts, helps the community & local charities and also helps Ginny with her wedding and education. He buys a new truck and becomes close with the local cartel members, who call him Tata (grandfather).
The cartel boss (played by Andy Garcia) sends his right hand man Julio to handle Earl and though he is initially hostile to the older man, soon he too becomes fond of Tata. Meanwhile, a DEA task force is narrowing in on the cartel’s deliveries to Chicago. Colin Bates, a DEA Agent & his partner Trevino, investigate and catch hold of a man who is involved and he is forced to be an informant in exchange for immunity. In the middle of a large cocaine shipment, Earl learns that Mary is gravely ill. After Ginny talks some sense into him, he postpones the drug delivery to make peace with Mary before her death, which provokes the cartel’s ire. He resumes the delivery as the DEA and the cartel close in on him. Earl is beaten and threatened by the cartel’s enforcers, but they relent after learning of his ex-wife’s death. As he makes his way towards the drop point, he is arrested by the DEA agents. When Earl pleads guilty to all charges and is sent to prison, his family show him their support. In prison, he returns to his horticulture.
I haven’t watched many movies of Eastwood post the 1990s but I have watched some of his movies that he has directed. I need to check out more of his movies as I have always associated him with his westerns and the Dirty Harry movies. He is a legend and an icon in the movie industry and I love his work. Slower paced but well acted, I would give this movie a 7 outta 10!