We've seen our fair share of 'drug mule' films over the years. Everything from Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Pusher' to 1996's 'Drug Mule' to 2004's Oscar nominated film 'Maria Full of Grace', and even last year's 'Lucy' that starred Scarlett Johansson. But we haven't seen anything quite like 'The Mule'. Written by Leigh Whannel and Angus Sampson (both from the 'Insidious' franchise), this drug fueled film is quite comical and abundantly gross.
With all all-star cast including both Whannel and Sampson, Hugo Weaving, and John Noble, 'The Mule' should keep your attention and keep you laughing, if not squirming in your seat. Most 'drug mule' films follow a poor unfortunate soul who has dozens of condom wrapped drugs in their body, as they pass through airport security to their next stop without getting caught. However here, 'The Mule' presents a different type of situation.
Set in 1983 during the American Cup Yacht Competition, a group of people at a bar are betting and having fun watching the contest. Club President Pat (John Noble) has secured enough funds to take his team to Bangkok, but he has secretly fixed the Clubman of the Year contest so that the friendly yet dumb Ray (Sampson) would win this year. In fact, President Pat is also into gambling, loan sharking, and other forms of criminal activity including the drug trade. His goal is to use Ray as a drug mule for heroine, by telling him that his father owes him money and threatening his mother.
Once Ray swallows the dozens of condoms full of heroine, you'd think that he would pass through airport security fine, as we've seen in other film over the years. But just like Ray said to his childhood friend Gavin (Whannel) who works for Pat, "I won't be any good at this." And he isn't. Ray is quickly picked up by airport security for looking nervous and suspicious. The standard over-the-top bad cop/good cop duo comes in Detective Tom Croft (Hugo Weaving) and Les Paris (Ewen Leslie) to question Ray.
Back in the 80s, the laws in Australia said that authorities could keep you for a week under tight scrutiny to see if the drugs come out. And that is where 'The Mule' takes us. A week long of literal gut wrenching and messy instances as we say Ray try to keep the heroine inside his stomach while being beaten, and eating for a week without doing his business. If you have stomach problems or are easily sick, you might want to cover your eyes a few times here.
Whannel and Sampson have perfectly crafted a highly entertaining story where each character has something they're hiding, which turns up towards the end. Each character's story arc is engaging and comical, even if things end tragically. Sampson does an exquisite job of playing the dolt who is forced into a horrible situation, but stays loyal. And Hugo Weaving plays the deranges police detective who is not above torturing and beating his suspects is one of the best parts of the film. Every time he's onscreen, you don't want him to leave, even if he is a bad guy.
'The Mule' is a fresh and original 'drug mule' centered film, that will both make you laugh and sick at the same time. I couldn't get enough of it.
'The Mule' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The entire image is clear and crisp throughout, with the exception of some 80's footage of 'America's Cup' broadcasts. Detail is very vivid and sharp throughout, which at some points may not be the best for your viewing experience, considering the subject material. Closeups reveal each individual hair, speck of dirt and feces, wrinkles, and even fine stitching in the costumes. Wider shots also show a good amount of detail without going soft.
'Colors look amazing and pop off screen. Everything is well saturated and not muted by any means. There is a sequence where a certain color hue is used, but it doesn't effect the color scheme in a negative way. Skin tones are natural and the black levels are always deep and inky, even in the lower lit scenes. There were no instances of any aliasing, banding, or video hiccups that I noticed, leaving this video presentation with high marks.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and it sounds quite good. It's not an overly loud action track, but it does heavily emphasize the squishy, dirty, and grimy sounds of what is expected of being a drug mule. Yes, there are some moments where the sound will make you squirm out of your seat. Sound effects are robust and loud whether it be Ray's current stomach problems or heavier action sequences.
The ambient noises of people chattering or cars passing by are done well too. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow without any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing. The score always adds to the humor and suspense of the film and has a great 80s vibe to it, while never drowning out any of the sound effects or dialogue. It's a great audio presentation.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 10 Mins.) - There are seven deleted scenes in total, all of which are worth watching, especially 'Ray Swallow Single Take'.
Who, What, Where, When (HD, 4 Mins.) - Here are interviews with the cast and crew, discussing the big plot points of the film and their characters.
Ego (HD, 3 Mins.) - Again, here are interviews with the cast and crew, discussing the themes and character traits.
Ticking Time Bomb (HD, 2 Mins.) - The film's main plot point is discussed here in detail.
1983 America's Cup (HD, 3 Mins.) - The cast and crew discuss why they used this particular event in the film.
Trailers (HD, 9 Mins.) - Trailers for the film along with movie trailers.
'The Mule' is quite a fun movie. It's not for the weak of stomach though. It has a lot of scenes that might make you gag. But it's fresh, original, and a lot of fun, full of comedy, action, and some uneasy suspense. The performances are excellent and the story itself is worth the price of admission. The video and audio presentations are both great and the short, but fun extras are all worth the quick view. 'The Mule' comes recommended