The Mule 4K Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
The Mule Summary
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 the 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.
The Mule Movie Review
I’ll put a spoiler alert here since The Mule made me angrier the more I thought about it after watching it. In the film, Earl thinks only of himself at the start of the film, prioritizing his daylilies over his family, even to the point of missing his own daughter’s wedding. As he loses everything when he is unable to keep up with technology, he takes the work as a mule and never looks back.
He enjoys the vast amounts of cash that he can earn, and doesn’t think about what he is doing it seems. He buys himself a flashy car, renovates a VFA center, and helps his granddaughter with her school. But he never shows any remorse about what he is doing in helping to move huge amounts of cocaine, only some slight worry that he might be caught.
Even at the end of the film, when he is caught, he seems to show no regret. His family has somehow come around to care about him, even after he ignored them for decades and only started spending time with them because he had large amounts of money. He happily spends time with the head of the drug cartel in Mexico, indulging in the women he offers up. The DEA is happy to have put him away at the end, but it doesn’t show them taking down anyone else in the cartel, or possibly making any real dent in the supply of drugs, only taking down a 90-year-old man who now can spend the rest of his life in jail while he’s easily replaced the next day.
There is no great moral here and no redemption for any of the characters when the film finishes. It’s a slow, plodding two hours that focuses on a selfish, indulgent man who is happy to think only of himself and take anything given to him without thinking of others, and that does nothing to redeem himself in the end.
The Mule Technical Review
The Mule was shot on Arri Alexa cameras at 2.8K and 3.4K resolution and given a 2K digital intermediate. The HDR image throughout is fine with occasional flashes of the expanded color gamut or wider contrast range, but overall a very muted presentation. There aren’t any issues with the image, but it just isn’t a film that offers much over the Blu-ray in terms of visual appeal, and I don’t think anyone going with the 1080p version would be missing much.
More disappointing is the fact that the audio soundtrack is only 5.1 channels. The surrounds are used reasonably well during the film, and the subwoofer gets some use from shotgun blasts and other effects, but it is overall a very muted presentation. Mostly dialogue driven, with some scenes that benefit more from the surrounds, but nothing that is going to wow you. Much like the image, the audio is fine and does the job, but the same soundtrack is available on the standard Blu-ray version.
The Mule Special Features
- Nobody Runs Forever: The Making of The Mule
- Toby Keith “Don’t Let the Old Man In” Music Video
The Mule Review System
Sony A1E OLED, Panasonic UB820 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver, Power Sound Audio Subwoofer.
Image and Audio are fine for the type of film.
The film is a letdown and the audio and video don't offer much reason to get a 4K version over the Blu-ray.
The Mule is a very deliberate film that is aggravating on many levels. The video is fine and the audio lacks Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, making this better suited to a Blu-ray version.