“This is the last one, so help me God. This is the last one.”
These are the fateful words uttered by Clint Eastwood‘s character in his newest directorial effort, The Mule. His character, Earl Stone, is based upon a real-life figure, late WWII veteran (and horticulturist) Leo Sharp, who was busted as an octogenarian while running 200 pounds of cocaine for the Sinaloa cartel (of El Chapo fame) in Michigan. As the well-known trope goes, Stone takes on “one last job,” which he hopes will financially set him up for a law-abiding retirement on an upstate farm somewhere. This intent seldom works out in TV or movies, and this trailer does adhere strictly to that outcome.
The film appears to be geared toward an awards-season push, which seems appropriate, given that Eastwood hasn’t both starred in and directed a film in nearly a decade (2009’s Gran Torino). Yet given his openly conservative political beliefs, this is an interesting project for the 88-year-old Hollywood institution to embrace. Also and generally speaking, the “one last job” trope applies to seasoned criminals, whereas Stone is framed as a relative newcomer to a life of crime in this synopsis:
Earl Stone (Clint Eastwood) is 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 (Bradley Cooper). 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.
Yep, that trunk isn’t simply full of “pecans.” The Mule, which also stars Bradley Cooper, Michael Peña, Taissa Farmiga, Laurence Fishburne, and Clifton Collins Jr., will arrive in theaters on December 14.