Director: Duncan Jones
Writers: Michael Robert Johnson (screenplay by), Duncan Jones (screenplay by)
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux
Plot: A mute bartender goes up against his city’s gangsters in an effort to find out what happened to his missing partner.
Running Time: 2 hours 6 mintues
IMDB Score: 5.4
Why I Watched It: I like Duncan Jones but his was a watch to see if it was as bad as the buzz and the critics said it was.
Random Thoughts: This is a Netflix Original and it was pushed pretty well and they spent money the hook here is that this was a passion project of director Duncan Jones, he’s tried to get this made for a long ass time and now he finally did it, he had this script even before he made Moon, by the way keep an eye out for Sam Rockwell making a fun cameo in his Moon character, now the tricky thing with a director and a personal passion project is that it might be so inside him it doesn’t work for the masses. It’s often a case that a director is too close to a project and Mute seems like another example of this.
What I liked: At it’s core Mute is a noir, take all the sci-fi elements away and it’s a old fashioned film noir, a man looking for his love and discovers mysteries and lies and of course some very bad people, and we get to watch and think does anyone really know anyone. On that level I liked the detective story if you will, there is one twist I didn’t see coming and it made sense and is maybe the best part of the story.
Alexander Skarsgard is playing against type here and he’s good, he doesn’t get to speak but the big thing is he’s likeable and you follow him and you have to believe he’s over his head but he can over come this and you do care about him finding answers. Also the set up of the relationship between him and Saleh works you buy them as a couple and you do believe he would go to the end of the world to find her.
What I Didn’t Like: I don’t see how setting this in the future changed the story at all because it pretty much does not help the story and also by setting it in the future that kind of forces you to world build which Mute doesn’t do at all. The main problem is that the future setting doesn’t help the story and it may get in the way cause everything else is by the numbers. I’ll give a big example Paul Rudd’s character is desperate to get out of Berlin, which the story is set, but everyone speaks English and it looks like anywhere else they never let us know what the US is like or why Berlin is worse. If you’re going to set a story in the future then you have to have that come into play otherwise there’s no point.
Let’s talk about Paul Rudd, yes he’s playing a bad guy, so that’s against type and yes a lot of people will talk about his stretching or showing how good an actor is, look Rudd is a good actor who happens to be good at comedy and here it’s no surprise when he’s playing off Justin Theroux he comes off well and when he’s trying to be tough he comes off that he’s trying to hard, it’s like he’s jumping up and down screaming “Look I can do more, look I’m acting” he’s not bad but it’s Paul Rudd playing a bad guy I never saw a character I saw Rudd not doing comedy. There’s a couple of scenes that plain out don’t work cause he’s over acting. Now I will say he has one really good scene when he confronts Justin Theroux that really works and was his best work here. So Let’s get to the Justin Theroux character, yes we get two bad guys and his character is gross, something comes to light about him that is very unsettling and yes it makes him a bad guy but I question why you needed it, cause it should have been a bigger point but even after Rudd finds out things stay the same it comes off as cheap heat.
The biggest flaw in Mute is that it’s overblown, this is a simple story and it’s dragged out to over 2 hours and let’s be honest this film didn’t need to be that long cause the ground they cover is cliched and boring, we get strip joints and brothels and oh look criminals running the city, been there done that and the sad thing the biggest miss is that the film doesn’t look that great for a story set in the future at least make it look cool, oh look flying cars, oh boy. Also I want to add that the lead character is Mute so it has a gimmick but like the setting it isn’t used well and really besides him writing stuff down I don’t know why this guy had to be mute, to make it different?
Final Thoughts: I didn’t hate it and I think if it was 15 minutes shorter I might have even liked it, I’m a film noir junkie and we don’t get these types of stories much anymore but it was too flawed to really enjoy. It’s too bad cause I like Duncan Jones as a director and I hope he can bounce back if you want to see him do a lot with nothing go watch Moon.