Ok, so when I watched Duncan Jones’s new movie MUTE on Netflix Saturday, I had heard a little bit of the bad buzz behind it, but I didn’t dare go on Rotten Tomatoes or read any full length reviews to make sure I went into it a little fresh. I pretty much watched the movie straight through with my son sleeping on my chest, and after it was over, I really felt like I hadn’t really watched anything at all but a beautiful moving screensaver that happened to have fantastic visuals but really didn’t have any substance. When I was done, I went to Rotten Tomatoes and read other legitimate critics reviews, and they all thought exactly the same thing. Mute has wonderful, wonderful visuals and it seems to have an expansive world, and the acting is fantastic, but the story isn’t there, and what is there is muddled, has cliched story beats, and doesn’t really pick up until the final 30 minutes.
Also, the movie needed to be trimmed about about 20 to 25 minutes as well. The entire film is one big red herring, and I knew that from the very beginning when certain characters were introduced and started talking. I was thinking, “ok, this is what happened, so and so is going to think this, but is going to get some last minute evidence where it is really this, showdown, the end.” And believe me, I was hoping and praying that I was wrong. I was really really wanting for the story to take me in a different direction where I thought it might not go. I had the same feeling in Blade Runner 2049, but Blade Runner managed to surprise me and actually trick me into thinking one thing but the reality is that it is something completely different. Mute tries it and fails…hard. The film keeps screaming at you, “LOOK AT ME DAMMIT, I’M A BAD GUY AND I WORK FOR A GANG AND PROBABLY HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND’S DISAPPEARANCE! HERE, HERE IS A USELESS 45 MINUTES WHERE YOU GO DOWN MY PATH ONLY TO REALIZE…BAZINGA MOTHERFUCKER!”
The entire film is one big red herring, and I knew that it was, and the film just ended up not being for me. If you need to know what it is about, the film stars Alexander Sarsgaard, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theoroux. Sarsgaard stars as a man in his 30s, who is Amish, who happens to be a mute because of a boating accident that happened when he was a kid. He has this girlfriend that he loves where they both work at a bar and she seems to be hiding something from him while trying to make a lot of money to do something with it, maybe run away perhaps? Anyway, she goes missing, and even though he is mute, he goes out and does detective work to try and find her. Paul Rudd, and Justin Theoroux also star in subplot B as two Army/Navy surgeons who went AWOL and are working as surgeons for the mob so that if anyone in the mob gets shot or injured, they don’t have to go to the hospital where they will report it. They are also kind of lovers even though they are bi sexual as well. Paul Rudd also has a little girl that he seems to drag everything, even though he seems to be a loving father.
I think in the paragraph above I have given you all the context clues to figure out what is really going on. And if you can’t, good for you, you don’t have an obsessive movie acute brain like I do. It is a blessing but in this case it was a curse. Maybe it was also the fact that even though it bills Paul Rudd and Justin Theoreux behind Sarsgaard, they are more co-leads than anything else, and the movie spends a little too much time with them, leaving the audience to likely guess what is going on in their story too. Time is taken away from Sarsgaard, who when the climax does hit, I still didn’t feel so much for, and not because he is mute the entire movie, its just I don’t think we got to spend enough time with him to feel his rage and determination. His detective work is shoddy and boring at best. Don’t get me wrong, they are incredible actors and all three of them, especially Rudd and Theroux, Theroux being almost unrecognizable, show range they haven’t shown before.
And while I thought the movie was ‘really really meh’ at first, the more I’ve thought about it, it isn’t THAT bad, but it could’ve used a lot of trimming and tightening. I think I was more upset that Duncan Jones decided to try and pull an M. Night Shyamalan and Split, putting in a character’s sort of epilogue to one of his previous film as an easter egg throughout the entire 2 hr 10 minute run time. It makes the far superior film subjected to a universe of a ‘ehhhh’ sort of side-quel. I am not listing the film on here but if you look at writer/director Duncan Jones’ filmography, it isn’t hard to figure out what movie it is and what actor makes a cameo in this.
Oh, the visuals are amazing in this btw. The visuals and the acting are maybe really the only two things that make this film even half way decently watchable. It is definitely a universe I would like to dive back into, but with a much much better non-cliched, non muddled story. And I think it can be done, especially if maybe done by another filmmaker or if Duncan Jones can fix some of his own film making techniques. He has two great films under his belt, Moon and Source Code (haven’t seen Warcraft), so I know the man is capable of making another fantastic film, and this is a bold try, but it ends up falling just short of the finish line. Netflix needs to step of its game in its original film content, and not just be a dumping ground for films that would fail spectacularly if released in theaters. Why can’t we get more stuff like Mudbound?