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MULE, THE

SYNOPSIS: Na•ve footy player Ray (Angus Sampson) is talked into becoming a drug mule from Bangkok by his vice captain Gavin (Leigh Whanell) who is working for crooked businessman Pat Shepard (John Noble). When he is detained on his return by customs and police take charge, he tries to defy the law - by defying his bodily functions for as long as possible. While everyone waits for his bowels to empty, the 1983 America's Cup is sailing on towards Australia's historic victory, unfolding on the telly in the hotel room where Ray is held. (Based on a true story.)

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
After grabbing our attention with the opening sequence as Ray is ordered to drop his daks by police at customs, and just as a police officer - female no less - is about to shine a torch up his butt, the filmmakers let all the tension and energy drain out of the film with a flashback to how Ray got there. This wouldn't be so tiresome if it were fascinating or dramatic or really funny. If.

This is based on a true story and as such offers opportunities to make it a noir comedy or a straight drama. As it is, the film floats between the two like a bloke changing saddles midstream and falling into the drink.

Angus Sampson plays Ray, the hapless, rather dull character put upon to execute a drug run for people smarter and badder than he. The na•ve bumpkin role suits Sampson but he drains it of interest for much of the film. When it's time to turn zero to hero, we are a bit past caring.

But the performances are the Crown Jewels in this otherwise lackluster film, notably the veterans Hugo Weaving as a world weary detective who bends the rules and Noni Hazlehurst as Ray's doting mum. Also memorable are Geoff Morrell as her beer sodden husband, a doormat, but less useful, and John Noble as the crook who masterminds the drug run.

Since the tone is never assured and there is far too much exposition that could be dealt with more dramatically and economically, the film falls short of its story potential.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

MULE, THE (MA15+)
(Aust, 2014)

CAST: Angus Sampson, Leigh Whanell, Hugo Weaving, Ewen Leslie, Geoff Morell,, Georgina Haig, Noni Hazlehurst, John Noble

PRODUCER: Angus Sampson, Leigh Whanell, David Griffiths

DIRECTOR: Tony Mahony, Angus Sampson

SCRIPT: Leigh Whanell, Angus Sampson, Jamie Browne

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stefan Duscio

EDITOR: Andy Canny

MUSIC: Cornel Wilczek, Mikey Young

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paddy Reardon

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: eOne Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 20, 2014

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: eOne Films

DVD RELEASE: iTunes & other digital outlets: November 21, 2014; DVD & Blu-ray & digital rental: December 3, 2014







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