Higgins’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Mule is a true story of Leo Sharp, a WWII vet who became of drug mule for the Sinaloa Cartel. Clint Eastwood produces, directs and stars in the crime drama. The film follows many of Eastwood’s predictable patterns, which generally makes for a watchable picture. What makes this film interesting is Eastwood’s exploration into the naivety of Sharp’s racial and social sensitivities. Eastwood’s Sharp is constantly surprised in a very earnest way when he refers to ethnicities with racial slurs and is subsequently corrected. He is apologetic in these revelations and the film keeps reminding us that he’s just “old fashion” instead of racist. In a way, Eastwood, who has faced criticism over his personal life, seems to be trying to clear the slate, his slate, with this film.
The hispanic characters however, are all backstabbing stereotypical gang bangers however and any attempt the movies makes to address social issues rings a bit hollow. At one point there’s a conversation in which Cooper comments to Eastwood that guys like him have lived so long that they have lost their filter. Eastwood resends by say that he never had one. Hmmm?
Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburn and the rest of the supporting cast are underused at best. They are essential for the film’s whole “cat and mouse” angle but its a shame they aren’t given more to do.
At the heart of the film, beats an interesting story of a man who gets embroiled into something to make up for poor decisions he made as a younger person. It’s a story about about being something you’re not to cover upon for the disappointment you feel you are. On these themes, the film succeeds but the lady doth protest too much to make it anymore than that. If you’re interested in this type of tale, I suggest The Old Man and The Gun.