What does an old man, drugs, the Sinaloa Cartel and a Lincoln truck have in common?
Watch The Mule to get the answer. Starring Clint Eastwood (Earl Stone), The Mule is a quirky film about the daring exploits of an octogenarian drug mule, inspired by the New York Times Magazine Article "The Sinaloa Cartel's 90-Year Old Drug Mule".
The movie is 1h 56min long and is classified as a crime, drama and a thriller. It is rated R for language throughout and brief sexuality/nudity.
Earl Stone is in his 80s, a horticulturalist who is divorced. He loves growing flowers on his farm in Peoria Illinois and wins first prize at the annual flower competition at the Vet Centre.
He also has quite the reputation as the ladies’ man and is an outrageous flirt, however, Earl is estranged from his family due to a bitter divorce from his wife Mary (Dianne Wiest) and has no relationship with his grown daughter Iris (Alison Eastwood) except with his grand-daughter Ginny (Taissa Farmiga).
One day, Earl wakes up to the foreclosure of his prized farm and he has to pack up all his belongings and leave. This coincides with Ginny’s wedding and he decides to attend it much to Mary’s and Iris displeasure and it is also the place where he makes his first contact with the Sinaloa cartel who take an interest in him since he is a cross country driver whose record is clean as he hasn’t committed any driving violations in his entire life.
Due to his desperate situation, Earl agrees to deliver a parcel under stringent conditions that he doesn’t check its contents and once he does it successfully, his life as a drug mule begins. No-one suspects him and he very quickly climbs up the ranks in the cartel and becomes their favourite mule.
Meanwhile, the FBI is aggressively going after the Sinaloa drug cartel and is working on a case that targets the highway that is Earl’s turf and the detectives led by (Laurence Fishburne) who is the Special Agent in Charge is intent on bringing them down. He recruits Agent Bates (Bradley Cooper) who is a star agent with a good record of arrests in his efforts to bring down the cartel, who is ably assisted by Agent Trevino (Michael Pena).
Earl begins to get very comfortable with his job as a drug mule after his initial hesitation.
The monetary rewards are good and they enable him to re-open his previous flower business and rescue the Vet Centre that was earmarked for demolition and which is also a place where most veterans meet to socialize and keep tabs on each other, this makes Earl a darling in the community.
As Earl’s reputation continues to grow due to non-arrests and the high quantity of drugs that he is able to transport, the head of the cartel requests for a meeting with ‘Tata’ or old man, which is Earl’s nickname and he comes face to face with the cartel leader and is able to charm him and cement his place as an important cog in the wheel but all is not well within the rank and file of the cartel and a plot is brewing to overthrow him and it succeeds.
The new leader is ruthless and is not interested in being friendly with Earl and he threatens him with dire consequences if he does not fulfill his mandate.
Unfortunately, Mary falls ill and she is on her deathbed and Earl drops everything to be with her.
This does not augur well for him with the cartel but it is a desperate final attempt for reconciliation with his family and nothing will stop him.
After Mary’s death, a chain of events leads to his capture and sentencing to jail.
Clint Eastwood plays the lead role with a lot of humour and sensitivity and it is bittersweet seeing him in his aged state.
The story is long and unravelling and we get to see the consequences of dealing in drug money and its end which is never good.
It has been surmised that the story mirrors Clint’s own life and is an apology for his own struggles to balance between work and taking care of his own family.
It’s a well-directed film and an entertaining story.