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MULE, THE (2018)

SYNOPSIS:
A 90-year-old horticulturist and Korean War veteran (Clint Eastwood) is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Illinois for a Mexican drug cartel.

Review by Louise Keller:
There is a mischievous slant and plenty of heart in this fish out of water tale in which Clint Eastwood plays an elderly war veteran who inadvertently becomes a drug mule. Penned by screenwriter Nick Schenk, this veteran is quite different from the one he played in Gran Torino (2008), also written by Schenk. Based on a true story, the biggest surprise is the comic element that prompts laugh out loud moments amid the action. Directed with his usual grace and attention to detail, Eastwood fans will need little encouragement to see this latest outing whose central theme concentrates on repairing damaged family relationships.

When we meet Eastwood's Earl tending his blooms, we quickly learn that work has always taken priority over family. His unblemished driving record springboards him into a new role; we are in on the joke and his naiive induction as a driver for a Mexican cartel is beautifully managed. I love the choice of music to which Earl sings along, as he drives to his destination, cocaine safely tucked away in the trunk: I've been Everywhere, On the Road Again and Dang Me, to name a few. We are seduced into Earl's laid back rhythm as the confounded cartel members realise they are onto a winner.

One of my favourite lines comes when Earl arrives at the splashy party in a luxurious Mexican villa, where Andy Garcia's cartel boss lays it on for his new star mule. 'Who do you kill to get a place like this?' Earl asks. To which Garcia's Laton quips: 'Many, many people.' A night of excess amid skimpily clad bikini babes is on offer.

Eastwood has gathered a wonderful ensemble with Bradley Cooper nicely cast as the new special agent pressured to make a drug bust. The scene when Cooper and Eastwood come face to face in a diner ensures the later payoff.

Unexpected situations and amusing consequences keep us engaged and amused and Earl's lack of technology smarts is a running gag. The fact that Earl's motives for the lucrative payola is selfless takes greed out of the equation and his rebonding with his ex-wife (Dianne Wiest), daughter (real life daughter Alison Eastwood) and granddaughter (Taissa Farmiga) is heartwarming indeed.

It's reassuring to know that Eastwood hasn't lost his touch and still spins cinematic magic.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MULE, THE (2018) (MA15+)
(US, 2019)

CAST: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Manny Montana, Taissa Farmiga, Alison Eastwood, Michael Pena, Andy Garcia, Laurence Fishburne, Dianne Wiest, Robert LaSardo

PRODUCER: Clint Eastwood, Dan Friedkin, Jessica Meier, Tim Moore, Kristina Rivera, Bradley Thomas

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood

SCRIPT: Nick Schenk

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Yves Belanger

EDITOR: Joel Cox

MUSIC: Arturo Sandoval

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kevin Ishioka

RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 24, 2019







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