Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Mule: It’s a Dirty Business
in customs can be a dirty business. Rubber gloves just don’t come thick enough
to make it alright. Of course, it is even worse to be a suspected smuggler on the
receiving end. For obvious reasons, time is presumably on the law’s side, but
one poor dupe will do his best to put his bodily functions on hold in Tony
Mahony & Angus Sampson’s “based on a true story” crime drama The Mule (trailer here), which releases in
select markets and on VOD this Friday.
to sad sack footballer Ray Jenkins, the vice-captain of his team and their
dodgy patron have a regular heroin smuggling operation going. This year,
Jenkins really ought to attend the annual season-ending trip to Thailand, since
he has been awarded their player of the year honor. It would also be a fine
opportunity for Jenkins to stuff his stomach with condoms filled with heroin.
He would prefer to decline, but his parents’ gambling debts have him in a tight
spot. He nearly gets away clean, but some last minute suspicious behavior gives
him away to Australian customs.
quite as dumb as he looks, Jenkins will not agree to any x-rays or cop to
anything. Under Aussie law, he will be held without charge for seven days or
two number twos, at which point the evidence should speak for itself. However,
Jenkins refuses to go, fortified by his strange willpower and a heavy dose of
constipating codeine. It will get ugly, as Detectives Croft and Paris become increasingly
impatient holed up in their airport hotel room with its jury-rigged porcelain throne,
especially the hot-headed Croft.
any film could scare a prospective drug mule straight, this would be it. Let’s
just say it goes there and skip the graphic descriptions. Frankly, Sampson and
co-writers Leigh Whannell (from the Saw franchise)
and Jaime Browne largely turn poor Jenkins into a moaning ball of constipation wrangled
over by the various cops, gangsters, and his legal aide attorney. However, he
will somehow rouse himself for some clever third act twists.
Weaving is a constant source of entertainment, snarling his way through the
film as Croft. Co-writer-co-director Sampson is also appropriately nebbish, in
a doughy way, as the unspeakably miserable Jenkins. While Georgina Haig’s
public defender is not much of a presence, the film rather slyly implies she is
far more interested in Jenkins as a potential cause than concerned with his
physical well-being. Regardless, Whannell and John Noble hold up their ends as totally
Contrasting pitiful Jenkins’ cautionary tale
with the wall-to-wall coverage of Australia’s America’s Cup Victory makes The Mule a rather idiosyncratic early
1980s period piece. Still, this is not Miami
Vice. No doubt about it, the premise
is a bit off-putting, to put it tactfully. However, the execution is quite
strong, buoyed by its considerable attitude and gumption. Recommended for fans
of dark, somewhat scatological thrillers, The
Mule launches on iTunes and opens in limited release this Friday (11/21).
Labels: Australian cinema, Hugo Weaving