Mule, The 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 238, April 2019

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Language throughout and brief sexuality/nudity
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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Clint Eastwood
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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In "The Mule," Earl Stone (Eastwood) is a man in his 80s who is broke, alone, and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive. Easy enough, but, unbeknownst to Earl he's just signed on as a drug courier for the cartel. He does well––so well in fact, that his cargo increases exponentially, and Earl is assigned a handler. But he isn't the only one keeping tabs on Earl; the mysterious new drug mule has also hit the radar of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates (Cooper). And even as his money problems become a thing of the past, Earl's past mistakes start to weigh heavily on him, and it's uncertain if he'll have time to right those wrongs before law enforcement, or the cartel's enforcers, catch up with him. (Gary Reber)

Special features include the featurette "Nobody Runs Forever: The Making Of The Mule" (HD 10:59), the Toby Keith "Don't Let The Old Man In" music video (HD 02:54), upfront previews, and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally in anamorphic using the Arri Alexa Mini and Arri Alexa SX Plus camera systems and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. The production was photographed on location in New Mexico. While not a particularly colorful production, the color palette is naturally hued throughout, though, hues are generally muted. There are occasional instances of pop, such as at the cartel's enclave and interiors of Laton's palatial Mexican mansion and during a colorful nighttime party. HDR contrast exhibits natural black levels, revealing shadow delineation, and day lighting. As well, neon signs punch during night scenes and scenes with Earl's beloved flowers. Landscapes are nicely captured in scenes with Earl driving on highways. Fleshtones are very natural and accurate in hue. WOW! segments are generally lacking, as this is not a particularly visual showcase. Resolution is most notable during close-ups, displaying fine detail in textures and facial detail, especially Earl's weathered wrinkles and lines, as well as outdoor scenes. Overall, this is a somewhat reserved presentation, though, consistently pleasing, with natural saturation throughout and instances of vivid color. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is mis-credited on the Blu-ray packaging as a Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack. Nothing out of the ordinary here, though, there is a fun mixture of music genres including jazz, pop, country, orchestral and Mexican music. Much of the music is heard over Earl's old truck radio. While dialogue is focused, ambient soundscapes are nicely presented in support. The garage ambience, where Earl comes and goes, is fantastic. Outdoor ambience also is excellent, with a feel of greater dynamics, such as the flower convention Earl attends and the nighttime pool party thrown by the cartel's leader, Laton, where the music is enveloping. Surround energy is enveloping but not particularly aggressive. Dialogue is wonderfully spatially integrated. even during overlapping conversations. Overall, this is not a very active soundtrack, though, fidelity is excellent and surround envelopment sounds realistic. (Gary Reber)