The Mule

Critics Consensus

A flawed yet enjoyable late-period Eastwood entry, The Mule stubbornly retains its footing despite a few missteps on its occasionally unpredictable path.



Total Count: 182


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,645
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Movie Info

Earl Stone, a man in his 80s who is broke, alone, and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive. Easy enough, but, unbeknownst to Earl, he's just signed on as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. He does well -- so well, in fact, that his cargo increases exponentially, and Earl is assigned a handler. But he isn't the only one keeping tabs on Earl; the mysterious new drug mule has also hit the radar of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates. And even as his money problems become a thing of the past, Earl's past mistakes start to weigh heavily on him, and it's uncertain if he'll have time to right those wrongs before law enforcement, or the cartel's enforcers, catch up to him.


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Critic Reviews for The Mule

All Critics (182) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (128) | Rotten (54)

  • I think that there's a sweetness to some of the film... There is a certain self-criticism built into the role as it goes along.

    Sep 12, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Watching this movie is like checking the news after popping a Xanax. The world's going to hell in a handcart. But it's all good.

    Jan 27, 2019 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • It's a winningly soft-hearted tale of a hard-hearted world, though, and one that never takes itself too seriously.

    Jan 24, 2019 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Ed Potton

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • It's a watchable movie, loosely based on a true story; there's a nice storytelling swing to it and Eastwood is frankly far more interesting than Robert Redford was in his recent swansong.

    Jan 23, 2019 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The Mule thrives in teasing ambiguity...For decades now, Eastwood has been one of the great interrogators of American social mores.

    Jan 3, 2019 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • This movie is as much a eulogy for a country that Eastwood sees as slowly crumbling as it is for the life Earl chose to lead.

    Dec 21, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Mule

  • May 04, 2019
    The main thrust of the plot isn't anything special but Eastwood seems to be using it to examine his own personal failings which gives the movie a deeply sad undercurrent.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 27, 2019
    An all-star cast help deliver this middle-of-the-road tale of an old geezer rebuilding the bridge to his disassociated family. This is possible mainly due to the mad money the guy makes by running drugs. The work is competent, unfortunately even while avoiding the inherent moral implications, or any thoughts of it, thereby reducing the thrust of the work to little better than an offering from Hallmark. What"s more interesting than the actual plot is how the artist relays knowledge of the cultural divisions in the United States and offers ideas as to dealing with them.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 17, 2019
    For all purposes, this is Gran Torino 2 - or how Clint Eastwood plays another cartoonish old geezer who has the depth of a saucer (and befuddling motivations) and is supposed to be funny by talking shit to strangers - so, let's just forget this and go for Breaking Bad instead.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2019
    Clint Eastwood plays a real-life 90-year-old drug mule, though I must inform you dear reader that at no point does he hide his cargo in a very uncomfortable place. The Mule is an interesting story about the most unexpected mule. Eastwood plays a man broke and on the outs with the family he's neglected their entire lives. He takes up an offer to simply drive albeit for a Mexican drug cartel. As with most life-of-crime movies, what starts off uneasily becomes second nature as our characters get in over their heads. Except that doesn't really happen in The Mule. I would estimate twenty percent of the movie is watching Eastwood drive and sing along to the radio. There are some tense near misses where he's almost caught, but these are confined to the first half. In the second half the cartel becomes the chief source of danger, all because he doesn't go by their routes. If he's their most successful mule, having never had a ticket in his life, then why micromanage? There are some other nitpicks that nagged at me, like the cartel knows the DEA agents (Bradley Cooper and Michael Pena) are pulling over a very specific color and kind of car, but at no point do they change out Eastwood's car. Also, Eastwood is spending vast sums of money in public for a man who was losing his house, and yet no red flags there. Eventually Eastwood has to make a choice of family over angering the cartel and risking his life, and I think you'll know where his character arc is destined. The dramatic shape of the movie feels a little too inert for the stakes involved, leading to an all too tidy conclusion. Eastwood delivers a fine performance, as does every other actor involved. The movie kind of coasts along, much like Eastwood in his truck, on the inherent interest of its premise and the star power of its lead/director. The Mule might have worked better as a documentary. Nate's Grade: B-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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