Starring Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux
Directed by Duncan Jones
This movie truly lives up to its title: It’s muted as hell! And coming from Duncan Jones, the acclaimed director of Moon and Source Code, it’s incredibly, incredibly disheartening.
The Berlin-set sci-fi noir, now streaming on Netflix, follows Alexander Skarsgård’s speech-impaired man as he ventures into the seedy underworld to search for his missing girlfriend. Holding the key to unlocking the mystery are a pair of scene-stealing surgeons (Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux) with mob ties and unsavory predilections.
While the neon-soaked movie is beautiful to look at (the dystopian neo-Berlin is a place Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard would feel at home in), its tone is frustratingly all over the place: Is it a cautionary tale, a mad-scientist thriller, a black comedy… what is it?
It’s all set-up and no pay-off. At times, it feels like a truncated version of a TV series (a la Altered Carbon), but with all the good parts left out. Jones has said that Mute was a long-gestating personal project and doing it was a way to get his creative mojo rebooted, following his exhausting bout with studio bigwigs over his video-game adaptation Warcraft.
Free therapy was how he called it. But guess what? You, too, will be seeking therapy after watching it. (**)