Film Review: “The Mule” – The Good, The Bad, And The Slow

I admit it, my thoughts on “The Mule” are going to be biased because I just love the guy. Ever since I saw Clint Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” as a teenager, I finally realised what “coolness” was all about. And, take it from me, this guy is cool.

For those of you who expect an action-packed thriller with car chases and beautiful women, don’t – except for glimpses of the latter in a few scenes featuring a luxurious villa belonging to a Mexican cartel who seems to keep women’s clothing expenses at a bare minimum (if you’ll excuse the play on words). But even here, it’s all about Clint. Half-lying on a bed with his shirt somewhere behind the cameras, a second damsel enters the room dressed with nothing but her morality. Clint feels almost embarrassed by all the attention. “It’s nothing special,” seems to be his justification for being in such an advantageous position. 

This is a film to be watched with slow-melting Maltesers in your mouth and a warm latte macchiato in your hand, but such is the coolness and class of Clint Eastwood’s acting, that you will enjoy every minute of it.

Earl Stone loves his flowers and horticultural prizes more than his family. But the era of online shopping finally catches up with him and he ends up short of cash. How Stone gets to be a courier for a Mexican drug cartel defies the imagination and suggests that he is probably beginning to suffer from senile dementia. He asks no questions and takes no notice of the semi-automatic weapons of his employers.

Stone is grumpy, cynical, philosophical, cunning and slow. He is politely sexist and racist, helping a black family on the roadside replace a punctured tyre and telling them, “I like to help Negroes,” before submitting to their preference to being called “black.” It all makes him a man whom I would have loved to have been at least my uncle. He is so out of touch with the present and not knowing how to send a text message, that he would have surely told my son that there’s more to life than a mobile phone. 

There is a good side to Stone because despite the money, he doesn’t live the high life that you would expect. Apart from a new pickup and a rebuying the old house that he had lost, he spends the money on saving the local veteran snack joint that had gone into liquidation, and paying for his grand-daughter’s college fees. She is the only family member who didn’t reject him when he failed all who loved him by not being there.

In the end, of course, he realizes that in wanting to amend one huge mistake in his life – neglecting his family that he thought would be there forever – he makes another. “You cannot buy time,” are is final thoughts. Fitting for an horticulturist who specializes in day lilies, the most ephemeral of flowers.