The Mule is currently making it’s way through theatres and whilst it is underperforming slightly at the cinema, that doesn’t mean that there is no merit to the film.
Throughout this article, I will be breaking down everything that you need to know about the movie as well as the real life inspiration behind it.
There will of course be heavy spoilers here so if you don’t want to know the film’s ending or plot details, then I highly suggest that you leave the site now.
For everyone else, I’m Deffinition and Welcome To The Website Where I Ruin It So You Don’t Have To!
The Mule: Plot Synopsis
The Mule follows Earl Stone, played by Clint Eastwood. Earl is a 90-year-old Korean War veteran who is on the edge of complete financial ruin. To top this all off, his family want very little to do with him due to the neglect that they faced from Earl over the year. Basically, Earl is a hardass with a stiff upper lip that feels like the kinda character Clint Eastwood was born to play.
Earl is based on the real-life World War II veteran, Leo Sharp— who was known to his Cartel handlers as, “El Tata.” Similar to Earl, Leo was a horticulturalist who began his career on the wrong side of the law shipping cash on behalf of the cartel. Leo quickly elevated to narcotics and was a very reliable member of staff. Leo used a pickup truck to transport up 300 kilograms of cocaine at a time from the southern U.S. border to Detroit.
The Mule Differences
Similar to this, we watch Earl doing drug runs as a mule for The Cartel and he quickly rises through the ranks due to his dependency. Though the film shifts the truth slightly, with Stone being a veteran of the Korean War, whereas Sharp was the Second World War, they are still very similar in ideology.
Stone and Sharp both saw the money as ways to right the wrongs of their past and I loved how Earl uses the cash that he accumulates in a sort of Robin Hood manner to fix his past. Earl renovates his VFW Post and pays for his granddaughter’s wedding, both of which he would have been unable to do without the trade that he worked in.
What the film does expertly is that it reflects the flaws in the American Dream. Earl worked his entire life, even sacrificing major events from it in order to continue work and material goals. This forces him to still be working at 90 with little to show for it. His family hates him and he has no real relationships that matter anymore. Very little in his life has purpose apart from running drugs.
An Autobiography Of Clint Eastwood?
Similar to this, Clint Eastwood himself has often sacrificed elements of his life in order to pursue his career in filmmaking. Even though he is approaching 90, Eastwood is still working and whilst he is cemented as a legend, one has to wonder…at what cost? There is a real autobiographical sense to the piece that definitely makes it stand out.
What defines the film is not Earl’s lack of respect for Authority but rather, his complete rejection of it. The DEA, similar to The Cartel, is depicted as an operation that cares little for its employees and Bradley Cooper does a fascinating job of realising that he and Earl are not too dissimilar.
The Mule: Ending Explained
Like Leo, Earl becomes trapped in a web that he cannot escape from and the DEA close in on the character by the film’s finale. By the end Earl is arrested and put on trial. The man pleads guilty in court and is sentenced to federal prison.
Mirroring this, Leo was arrested and eventually confined in prison. However, due to declining health after only serving a year in prison, Leo was set free. Leo Sharp died in December 2016 at the age of 92. Sharp may be showcased as a hero but a lot of lives were ruined due to the career path he chose.
The Mule itself is a depiction of how life doesn’t tend to end all guns blazing but rather a whimper. The fact that the movie is underperforming at the box office is poetic in itself but I highly recommend that you check it out as its definitely a fitting farewell for an actor of Eastwood’s stature.
So, what are your thoughts on The Mule? Did you enjoy it and what did you take from the film? Comment below and let me know!