The Mule

The Mule

The writer-director duo of Gran Torino, Nick Schenk and Clint Eastwood, have returned with yet another story of a war veteran. But this time it isn’t a morally solid guy we’re looking at, but a man who’s breaking bad in his 90s. A retired horticulturist takes up job as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. This story has a lot of in-built excitement to it, and we also have a charismatic Eastwood to add life to the role. But there’s a glaring flaw in his characterisation. Earl Stone’s intention to get into this line of crime is never clear. We get a practical motive – that he has lost his house, has nowhere to go for money, and he can’t go to his family because he hasn’t treated them right. But there’s no emotional backing to his decision of becoming a drug mule, at this point in life. If it was to win his family over with money, we get to know that too late, so it isn’t even convincing enough a reason to buy. All this aside, his moral arc does make some poetic sense with the whole idea of him being a “late bloomer”. This metaphor redeems the under-written character quite a bit, and ends the film on a brighter note. Studying the screenplays of GT and this one can be a good exercise in identifying and comparing dramatic weight.


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