Clint Eastwood’s Magnum Opus Is Climbing Streaming Charts

Clint Eastwood's The Mule is climbing the streaming charts on HBO Max.

By Lauren Boisvert | Published

Clint Eastwood’s 2018 film The Mule is climbing the streaming charts right now. The celebrated director‘s 2018 film earned the number 6 place on the Top 10 list on HBO two days in a row. It has also risen in popularity by 140 points today, Nov. 28, according to Flix Patrol.

The Mule follows Eastwood as 90-year-old horticulturalist Earl Stone, a Korean War veteran who becomes a drug mule for the local cartel. The film was Clint Eastwood’s first starring role since 2012, when he played Gus in Trouble with the Curve. Before that, in 2008, he played Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino.

When Earl’s life falls apart–his wife leaving him, his daughter shutting him out, his business going bankrupt–he gets noticed by a member of the cartel who is privy to his financial situation. Earl becomes a mule, driving more drugs across Illinois as he flies completely under the radar due to his age, ethnicity, and overall demeanor. No one would suspect him to be a mule.

Eventually, a new sheriff comes to town in the form of DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper). Bates and his partner agent Trevino (Michael Pena of Ant-Man fame) are in charge of honing in on the cartel’s shipments to Chicago. Bates and Trevino establish an informant in the cartel, while Earl starts getting a little too comfortable. Eventually, the head of the cartel is assassinated and replaced by a much tougher man named Gustavo (Clifton Collins Jr.).

As The Mule progresses, Earl finds himself in the middle of a $12 million shipment. While he’s driving, he learns that his ex-wife is gravely ill, and he pauses his job to go to her bedside after careful consideration.

clint eastwood
Clint Eastwood in The Mule (2018)

A thrilling plot, but what was the critical reception to Clint Eastwood’s first starring film in four years? According to Rotten Tomatoes, it has an average score of 6.2 out of 10. While David Ehrlich of IndieWire wrote, “This soulful and deeply satisfying film—a fitting swan song, if ever there was one—makes a compelling argument that change is always possible, and that the path we’re on is never as narrow as the highway makes it look,” there was still some criticism that the drama in The Mule was a little lackluster.

Though, mostly, Clint Eastwood’s magnum opus was well received. Additionally, it was based on a true story. DEA agent Jeff Moore arrested World War II veteran Leo Sharp in 2011.

Sharp became a drug mule for the Sinaloa Cartel in his late 80s, and The Mule follows the story as told in New York Times reporter Sam Dolnick’s article “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule,” published in 2014.

Overall, Clint Eastwood’s The Mule was a successful entry in his career, one that challenges stereotypes, raises questions, and makes one think about what they’re willing to go through.