Based in the same universe as Moon, Duncan Jones’ new sci-fi jaunt Mute is one intent on intrigue and mystery. Intention and actually doing it are two different things unfortunately. Ever since I saw Moon I have been a fan of Jones and his follow-up thriller Source Code only solidified my opinion. Now after years of anticipation, his new film Mute has been released on Netflix and quite frankly it’s nothing short of dismal. He has proven in the past that he possesses real talent but with Mute something clearly went wrong.
The first red flag for me was the actor chosen to play the lead, Alexander Skarsgård. I have never seen a single performance from this man that left me even minimally excited or impressed. As far as I’m concerned he’s a pretty face with not much else to offer. That said I was mildly interested when I learned he wasn’t going to say a single thing in the movie. I thought even he can’t screw this up. I was wrong, so very wrong. His performance isn’t terrible per say but it isn’t memorable either. In fact I would say at times he is downright boring. He’s just there to be a face for the other actors to speak at.
The second indicator that things were destined to fall apart is in the first moments of meeting the love interest of the story. The actress is porn acting bad and it’s distracting to say the least. I hate being so negative toward individuals but this can’t be understated, she was awful. She was bad enough that any motivation Skarsgård had in finding her when she goes missing makes you question if she’s really even worth it. At least with Skarsgård’s performance you can move on and forget but her performance… the silver lining is she isn’t a major physical presence in the film. She goes missing at one point and I say leave her there.
The third failure I noticed is in the visual effects. I shouldn’t be squinting at the screen trying to tell if the special effects are good or terrible. If this happens they’re terrible. It should feel seamless and just as physically present as the actors themselves. Instead, say hello to two hours of lackluster green screen. I’ve seen better effects in films made twenty years ago. I assure you, this is a problem. With such a desire to create an entirely imagined future world the effects are then all the more imperative to be completed convincingly. Blade Runner 2049 did it perfectly and Altered Carbon, another Netflix Original, has done it well so I know it’s possible for a future city to be realistically present and immersive. Mute failed.
The best part of the film comes in the form of Paul Rudd who plays a man by the name of Cactus Bill for reasons unexplained. He’s got a monster mustache so why wouldn’t he be named Cactus? Rudd manages to make the most of his uninteresting character by making him funny when he should be and intimidating when he needs to be. His performance is the best of the movie but it’s the relationship Cactus Bill has with his friend that drags even the most promising part of the film down into the mud. Bill’s friend, Duck, played creepily by Justin Theroux, is off putting from the beginning and their relationship is curiously turbulent at best. And this is before Rudd’s character discovers Duck’s insidious secret that quite frankly deserves nothing less than a beating and a trip to life in prison. But after a brief confrontation ol’ Cactus seemingly forgives Duck out of some misplaced loyalty. Duck’s actions in this film if a reality would be met accordingly with physical harm, possible death, and undoubtedly prison. This hidden secret is uncovered and then breezed over like nothing happened. It’s bothersome at best.
Mute is a major letdown. I wish I saw something in it but when the credits rolled I was completely disinterested in everything I just experienced. It was boring with shotty effects and less than stellar performances that drag a wondrously ineffective story even further down. If you want to still check it out it’s now playing on Netflix but for my time, this was a waste.
Rated TV-MA For: Language, bloody violence, and sexual situations
Runtime: 126 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Seyneb Saleh
Directed By: Duncan Jones
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2/ Acting: 2/ Directing: 3/ Visuals: 2
OVERALL: 2 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: NO
Check out the trailer below:
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