Clint Eastwood’s new movie The Mule was released on August 26th, 2019 in mainland China. This movie scored 7.9 in Douban (a reputable film reviews and ratings website in mainland China) when this article is written.
The film was inspired by a true story. 87-year-old Leo Sharp was arrested on October 21st, 2011 after the police found 229 pounds cocaine in his car. Leo Sharp has worked for El Chapo’s Mexican drug cartel as a drug trafficker, being referred as mule by cartel, for almost 10 years, during which he drove between his home state Michigan and Mexico with 450 pounds to 550 pounds cocaine per month. Sharp made his nickname Tata known among cartel because of enormous drugs he could transport and his special way to avoid police.
Leo Sharp survived from World War II with a Bronze Star Medal. After the war, Sharp took daylilies cultivation as his career and won awards in international competition. However, online flower trader in 21st century impacted his business very much. As an old man, Sharp was not quick enough to win the rivalry over fast-growing internet business. He might lose his farm. A worker in his farm offered him the job to be a mule and Sharp hardly said ‘no’ to the offer because of the payment.
It seems that the job is designed for Leo Sharp. He is good at driving. He has a legitimate ID. He has no criminal records. He is old and friendly and no one will picture him as a drug dealer. Sharp’s first few deliveries were very successful and he won the trust of the cartel. Soon, Sharp became the most effective and efficient mule until he was finally arrested by D.E.A agent Jeff Moore.
Leo Sharp and Clint Eastwood in the film (the picture is from bing image)
Clint Eastwood directed and starred as Earl Stone (this role is from Leo Sharp) in the film The Mule. It is not only a re-representation of a legendary story about an 87-year-old drug dealer. Eastwood also represented an old man from outdated era who struggled with life to prove he is a type of person with can-do spirit.
It is no doubt that Earl is a tough guy. Stone’s image, an old man who is good at cultivating beautiful and delicate flower, is a sharp contrast to drug dealer. In order to save his own farm and paid for his granddaughter’s wedding, Earl risks to be a criminal for money. To keep the restaurant for Korean veterans from being broke, Earl took another drive. He is brave enough to take responsibility for what he has done. He loses contact with cartel when his ex-wife is ill. When gangsters come to him, he responds “I broke the rule, you could do whatever you want to me”. Earl pleads the guilty in the court without any hesitation. The weird thing is this tough guy is a kind of coward when he needs to be responsible for his own family. Earl makes all his customers satisfied at the flower exhibition and buys everyone a drink in the bar as a celebration for winning the award, but he even could not maintain his promise with his daughter to show up at her wedding. He takes good care of his daylilies and drug dealer career, but he could not take good care of his family.
At first glimpse, this is a contradict in Earl. However, when you take a close examination, it is not a surprise. A man who does his best to be top in his career, either for daylilies or for drug transportation, is a man with ambition. From being nervous about the drug at the back of his car to being totally fine partying at the cartel leader’s mansion, Earl Stone adapts to his new role in life very soon and he seems to enjoy the sense of achievement brought by the new job.
His adventure brought so many troubles for the police and also alienated himself further and further from his family. Finally, Earl took a risk of offending the cartel in order to keep accompany with his wife in her last few days. His ex-wife told him “you didn’t have to get rich for us to want you around” before her life ended. Earl Stone eventually realized the family being-together was really what he needed at deep heart. At the same time, Earl also messed his regular delivery task and gave the police a chance to hunt after him. After the arrest, Earl said he did not regret because he made it up with his family. The cost paid off.
This criminal story is instilled with a warm theme. It is worth watching if you enjoy a film showing different sides of life.