Overview: A first time drug mule is caught by law enforcement. Cherub Films; 2014; Not Rated; 103 minutes.
Comedy?: The Mule is a crime movie about a man who doesn’t want to take a dump, the men and women who think he should or shouldn’t take that dump, and the situation that led him to the point where a dump would be so important.
Based on that description and the poster for this movie you would not be remiss to expect a comedy in the vein of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch. And while there are funny moments (mostly provided by Hugo Weaving) the movie has intentions of being a gritty crime drama with corrupt cops, family tensions, and terrifying gangsters. Unfortunately, the movie takes too long to establish this tone. It begins with a small town footy club finding out they’ve raised the money for the team to travel to Thailand. Ray, a team member and a bit of a quiet loser, is dragged along and an old friend offers him eight grand to carry some drugs back from Bangkok into Australia. Ray is presented as a gentle giant who lives with his mum and works at a TV repair store where he is bullied by the owner. The team travel to Bangkok, collect the drugs, and Ray swallows a dozen condoms filled with heroin. They cross back into Australia and through panic and happenstance Ray is detained by two cops who install him in a hotel room and inform him they will detain him for seven days or until he goes number two.
The rest of the movie details Ray’s struggle to hold his bowels and his lawyer’s machinations to get him freed.
Gangster movie?: At the same time the gangster whose drugs are currently lodged in Ray’s stomach goes on a rampage to find him. The gangster, played by John Noble (I miss Fringe), is ruthless and violent in a way that takes the movie from potential black comedy (more like brown comedy – zing!) into full blown gangster movie territory, leading to some gruesome murders and acts that don’t really gel with a movie that focuses a lot on a man writhing on a bed trying not to shit his pants. As the film reached its climax, I was that weird combination of bored and confused. I kept expecting jokes but there weren’t any. Good characters turned bad and bad characters turned good with no clear motives, and then, the movie ended.
Overall: There were moments of this film that were great: Most of the Hugo Weaving stuff, John Noble, a particularly gag-worthy scene of Ray expelling some of his heroin condoms and having to re-ingest them straight afterwards. But all in all, the film never finds its tone, nor does it find a way to present its action in a compelling way.