Movie Review: 'The Mule' Has A Personal Feel To It, Says 'LA Times' Film Critic
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
In his latest movie, Clint Eastwood is taking on a very different role - an old war vet and great grandfather with no criminal record who just happens to drive across the country transporting millions of dollars' worth of cocaine for a cartel. It is easy money until it isn't.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MULE")
CLINT EASTWOOD: (As Earl Stone) I didn't deserve forgiveness. This is the last one. So help me God, this is the last one.
GREENE: The film is called "The Mule." And we're joined by LA Times film critic Kenneth Turan to talk about it. Kenny, thanks for coming in.
KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: It's a pleasure.
GREENE: Sounds like you really liked this movie.
TURAN: I really did. You know, Clint Eastwood, 88 years old, continually has the ways and means to surprise us. This is different than other Eastwood films. This is both an Eastwood film and film by an 88-year-old filmmaker. That combination is fascinating.
GREENE: Based on a true story, right?
TURAN: Based on a true story of an actual - the day the real man was sentenced, he was 90 years old. This was a man who had been a drug mule for a Mexican cartel for almost a decade and had finally been caught and put in prison. A reporter for The New York Times heard about the story and wrote a piece, and that became a screenplay.
GREENE: So tell me more about the character, and tell me more about the way Clint Eastwood plays this character and how everything unfolds here.
TURAN: It's interesting. I mean, he starts as a prosperous daylily grower and goes out of business, needs money. He's approached by someone asking him who wants - you know, does he want to drive? And he does it. He's a man who doesn't really care much about his family. He lives for his work. He lives to socialize. You see he's divorced from his wife. He misses his daughter's wedding. He's not someone who cares about that.
And over the course of the film, he starts to re-evaluate his life. Things happen that cause him to re-evaluate his life. So, you know, this is a film about what's important in life, about regret, about, you know, emotion, not the kind of things that we associate, you know, with Dirty Harry or The Man with No Name - very different territory.
GREENE: So a story about drug running, a story about a man in his 80s, and also a story that digs into family, it sounds like.
TURAN: Totally. Totally. It feels like that's why the film was made. That's what interested Eastwood was not the drug running part but being able to deal with family issues.
GREENE: I don't want to give too much away. And I haven't seen it, so I really can't give too much away. But it sounds like timing is going to be very important here. I mean, if he's coming up against the law at moments when he's starting to reflect on whether he wants to be with his family. I mean, you're already making it sound like something I need to see.
TURAN: Yeah. Yeah. No. No. And, you know, his daughter is in the film, Alison Eastwood. That's one reason that it feels...
GREENE: She plays his daughter, real daughter plays his daughter.
TURAN: She plays his daughter in the film. She's acted in his films before, but it's been a while. And we see her again. And actors like Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, who've acted with him before, they appear in this film as well. There is a real family feeling about the entire enterprise.
GREENE: Clint Eastwood seems to keep churning out movies - 88. I mean, is he even thinking about stopping this and retiring at some point?
TURAN: (Laughter) You know, I interviewed him a couple of years ago, and I asked him about this. He looked at me, and he said - he says, I play golf. I like to play golf. I don't want to have to play golf.
GREENE: I love that.
TURAN: And, you know, I think he just likes doing this, and he doesn't see any reason why he should stop. He enjoys it. You know, he can do it. Why not keep doing it?
GREENE: Can you feel his age when you see this movie?
TURAN: Not in terms of technique, what you feel because of his interests. I think when he was 50, he would not have made this film. You know, you feel his age in his preoccupations.
GREENE: Kenny, thanks a lot, as always.
TURAN: It's a pleasure.
GREENE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies here at MORNING EDITION and for the Los Angeles Times. And the movie coming out today, the new Clint Eastwood film is "The Mule."
(SOUNDBITE OF GORILLAZ' "CLINT EASTWOOD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.