(US/Canada - 2018)
Directed by Clint Eastwood. Written by Nick Schenk. Cast: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Pena, Dianne Wiest, Andy Garcia, Ignacio Serricchio, Taissa Farmiga, Alison Eastwood, Richard Herd, Clifton Collins Jr., Loren Dean, Eugene Cordero, Victor Rasuk, Noel G, Robert LaSardo, Lobo Sebastian, Manny Montana. (R, 116 mins)
Since his post-UNFORGIVEN resurgence in the early 1990s, there's been an air of awards prestige around most new films by Clint Eastwood. There was certainly that feeling surrounding THE MULE when the grim and downbeat trailer turned up a couple of months ago, but the film itself is much more light and loose than you'd expect, and frequently quite funny. Inspired by the true story of Leo Sharp, a 90-year-old Michigan retiree who became an unlikely courier for the Sinaloa cartel, THE MULE stars Eastwood, in his first time in front of the camera since 2012's TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, as 90-year-old Earl Stone, a Korean War vet and award-winning rural Illinois horticulturist who's big on the day-lily circuit but never seemed to have the time for his family. In a 2005 prologue, he skips the wedding of his daughter Iris (Clint's daughter Alison Eastwood) to accept an award at a horticulture convention at an area Holiday Inn. Cut to 2017, and Earl's home and business have been foreclosed, a casualty of internet convenience, and he's got nowhere to go. Iris hasn't spoken to him in 12 years, and his ex-wife Mary (Dianne Wiest) reads him the riot act for showing up at a party for their engaged granddaughter Ginny (Taissa Farmiga), the only member of the family who wants anything to do with him. After being ripped to shreds in front of everyone is approached by a friend (Victor Rasuk) of a bridesmaid about a potential job "just driving." Desperate for income and wanting to contribute financially to Ginny's wedding, affable and naive Earl ends up driving to El Paso in his beat-up truck to pick up a package, drive it back to Peoria, leave his truck at a motel, come back in an hour, and find an envelope full of cash in the glove compartment waiting for him, no questions asked.