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Beyond Fright Review: THE MULE

unnamed (2)Good, original crime thrillers can be extremely difficult to come by. For ever GOODFELLAS or FARGO, there are quite a few efforts that end up falling a bit flat, giving viewers a definite “been there, done that” feeling. When original crime films do come, it’s typically out of nowhere and a lasting effort that ends up acheiving some form of cult status. The Angus Sampson-led crime thriller/comedy, THE MULE, is just that kind of film, one that pulls you into its web and gives its audience a suspenseful and comical look at one bad situation.

THE MULE‘s plot is not only somewhat original, but one that will keep you on edge and well,..almost throwing up at times, with the film’s protagonist, Ray, making the mistake of agreeing to hide a kilo of heroin in his stomach and transporting it back to Australia. The idea of a man having multiple bags of drugs in his stomach instantly brings up the idea in your head that whatever goes in one’s mouth, ends up coming out the other side, and THE MULE‘s plot revolves around just that. When Ray is stopped and apprehended by police, he’s put into a hotel room, closed off from the world and watched by a couple of detectives (Hugo Weaving, THE MATRIX, THE LORD OF THE RINGS and DEAD EUROPE‘s Ewen Leslie. If that isn’t bad enough, Australian mobsters are wanting their drugs back, and Ray’s friend Gavin is sent to tie up loose ends.

It’s that rich setup that drive the film into a suspenseful yarn that keeps you continually guessing throughout the entire movie. Watching Ray try to keep it together for over a week of not using the toilet might add a bit of humor to the film, but make no mistake about it, it’s a cat and mouse game of “Who’s smarter” that goes back and forth like a teeter-totter, supplying more than its fair share of twists and turns. Nobody is who they appear to be, and it’s a continual one-up approach that makes THE MULE not only an entertaining one, but one that will stand the test of time.

Sampson (the INSIDIOUS series, 100 BLOODY ACRES) does an excellent job leading the film as Ray, and makes the dilemma of having bags of drugs inside of him and having to hold them for over a week believable. There’s somewhat of a soft-spoken innocence to Sampson’s performance that makes it so easy to care about what happens to him. SAW/INSIDIOUS writer Leigh Whannell does a great job as Gavin, who is ultimately responsible for the whole fiasco, as he talks Ray into taking the chance and leaves Ray hanging when he’s apprehended. Faced with the dilemma of being told to “get rid” of Ray, Gavin knows he’s the cause of putting his friend in jeopardy and it’s those types of situations that fill THE MULE up to the brim with character development and some mighty interesting performances. It’s great to see Weaving as a tough as hell detective, as opposed to an elf or a Matrix agent. Every scene that his Detective Croft appears in is one of pure energy, as he’s a force to be reckoned with.

As years go by and people look for crime thrillers to watch, it’s obvious that with 2010’s ANIMAL KINGDOM and now THE MULE, that Australia is putting out some solid efforts to watch. THE MULE deserves to sit confidently alongside solid caper/crime films as anything from the Coen Bros. or Scorsese and will most definitely in time, become a cult classic to watch over and over again. Plus, how could anyone NOT be into a film with THIS much swearing: