‘Mute’ Review Roundup: Sci-Fi Dud Fails To Get Message Across
Mute, from director Duncan Jones, stars Alexander Skarsgård as Leo, who is left unable to speak after a childhood incident. He is searching for his missing girlfriend through the gritty streets of nighttime Berlin in this Bladerunner copycat film. Leo gets mixed up with Paul Rudd‘s Cactus Bill, Justin Theroux‘s Duck and a couple of U.S. army surgeons who have gone rogue.
Though Mute is the follow-up to Jones’ 2009 sci-fi hit Moon, this movie is leaving critics wanting more. Most seem to be wholly unimpressed by this dark film, which has received a terrible 4% on Rottentomatoes. While the settings is gorgeous and gritty, the characters don’t help move along the plot or add much to the story. Mute is available to stream on Netflix.
MUTE REVIEW ROUNDUP
“Here’s where I should be clear that Mute isn’t a good movie. It manages to be both bizarre and boring. While I admire Jones’ inventive details like a bowling ball that looks like a giant die, or a severed cow cartoon shilling for steak, or the way cell phones have advanced to where people don’t acknowledge they’ve answered a ring before screaming hello into a startled room, the film simply looks cheap… Mute is more interesting as a bullet-point list of absurdities than as a two-hour film. Yet, Jones continues to have my attention. He’s one of the only directors making choices that haven’t focus-tested the fantasy out of genre filmmaking. He takes risks… And he makes mistakes — big, jaw-dropping blunders that provide dangerous thrills that safer, better films don’t. Mistakes don’t give a movie soul. But you can feel human fingerprints on his films.”
–Amy Nicholson, Uproxx
“It was directed by Duncan Jones, the promising talent behind 2009’s sci-fi headtrip Moon; it stars Alexander Skarsgård; and early trailers made it look like a neon-noir cross between Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. Sadly, it’s just another airless dud in red packaging… The one thing Mute has going for it is Jones’ vividly imaginative sense of world-building. Like Ridley Scott with Blade Runner, he fills every corner of the screen with something cool to look at. And the fact that the director, who happens to be the son of David Bowie, decided to set the film in a future-shock Berlin (where Bowie lived while recording his most seminal albums in the late ‘70s) no doubt has a personal resonance for him so soon after his father’s death. But you get the feeling that Jones spent so much time conjuring his movie’s groovy universe that he was all tapped out of ideas when it came time to write a tale worthy of it.”
–Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
“As the story, written by Michael Robert Johnson and Jones, moves among set pieces both lovely and gruesome, with colorful turns from a supporting cast that includes Gilbert Owuor, as the nightclub’s owner, and Robert Sheehan, as a flamboyant prostitute, the characters function mainly as collections of extreme traits. It’s not their desires and actions that form the movie’s connective tissue so much as the combination of strong design work and Clint Mansell’s elegant score, with soundtrack excerpts from compositions by David Bowie, the director’s late father. It becomes clear only in the final moments what Jones was reaching for, and his intent is underscored in the closing-credits dedication to David Jones (aka Bowie) and Marion Skene, the filmmaker’s nanny when he was a child of divorce. All the genre bells and whistles, however finely crafted, get in the way of the story’s undercurrents of longing and grief.”
–Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
“Duncan Jones has shown himself to be a very capable director of short-story-ish sci-fi in films like Moon and Source Code, but he tests the limits of human patience with Mute, a flabbergasting techno-noir wannabe that follows a silent, wood-whittling Amish lug (Alexander Skarsgård) as he tries to find his missing Iranian girlfriend in near-future Berlin without the help of a computer. The material skews grotesque (fetish-bots, pedophilia, Liquid Sky make-up) and seems super personal, a long-gestating project that doubles as an homage to its director and co-writer’s famous dad, the late David Bowie. But with an insipid script, no narrative line, and a cast of unlikable characters, Mute has to get by on looks—neon Cold War hand-me-downs with all the workmanship of journeyman TV… As in his big-budget fantasy dud Warcraft, Jones demonstrates no knack for grand spectacle… But the film ignores all the potential commentary and conflict in its pulpy, hyperbolic premise, offering only trivialities, superficialities, and contempt. It has as little to say as its protagonist. Possibly less, even.”
–Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club
Check out Alexander Skarsgard’s uInterview.