Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Mule (2018) ***

Approaching 90, Clint Eastwood shows no signs of slowing down. He directed two films in 2018, and also starred in one of them. Loosely based on a true story, The Mule is about a desperate old man with financial issues who becomes a "mule" for a Mexican cartel. A mule smuggles drugs to a secret location, typically a person law enforcement would never suspect.

Still fiery and full of fight as Earl, a successful salesman who put work above his family, now has distant relationships with his children. The films begins with Earl missing his daughter's wedding as he celebrates closing a big sale at a hotel bar with strangers. Years later he's on the verge of bankruptcy when  the "mule" opportunity arises. 

The scenes with Earl interacting with the cartel operatives are played for laughs as he form an unlikely bond. And he's good at his work and even gets the attention of cartel boss played by Andy Garcia. Meanwhile, two DEA agents are on his trail, Bradley Cooper and Michael Pena. 

While the beats are familiar, it's the interchange between Earl and the people in his life that keeps the movie rolling. Dianne Wiest as his ex-wife who refuses to speak with him, an extended scene with Bradley at a Wafflehouse, or trying to mentor a cartel boss's son. It all sounds ludicrous, but it works.

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