An intriguing and tedious mess: ‘Mute’ movie review

netflix, mute, paul rudd, alexander skarsgard

I want to start off this review by saying I had really high hopes for this movie. The trailer had me intrigued. The cast looked solid. I was hoping that this would be a good Netflix original as I thought Bright was okay and The Cloverfield Paradox was very disappointing.

Mute is from director Duncan Jones who became well known for his film Moon back in 2009. He also defined this film as a “spiritual sequel” to Moon. He also directed Source Code and Warcraft, the film based on the popular multiplayer RPG game.

His latest sci-fi adventure takes place in a futuristic Berlin. We follow the story of an Amish mute bartender named Leo (Alexander Skarsgard) who can’t speak due to an accident during his childhood. He is in love with his girlfriend Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh) and things seem to be going well for them. She seems to have something sketchy about her. We also meet two other sketchy characters. Two American surgeons Cactus Bill (played outstandingly by Paul Rudd) and Duck Teddington (a different look from Justin Theroux). They seem to be doing whatever they can to make it back to the U.S. and get out of the Amish influenced Berlin.

The story continues to drag on as Leo’s world is turned upside down when Naadirah goes missing and his top priority becomes locating her. He is searching every lead he can looking for her while the two doctors are doing random surgeries and we quickly find out they are some shady characters. Almost an hour into this film I caught myself wondering what exactly was going on. I knew that the two different stories had to link up at some point but the way the film was dragging I was afraid that it wasn’t going to happen. I was trying to keep myself focused on this “sci-fi Casablanca.”

I can admit that I did enjoy some of the performances in this film. Rudd does a good job with the role he is given and was definitely my favorite character. This was a very different role for him. Skarsgard does well in the lead role as the strong and silent hero. It is tough to carry a film without saying a word but he does well with his emotions. The visuals were also very appealing but one of the major flaws of this film is it seems that the story isn’t really going anywhere and you find yourself losing interest and not paying attention. Leo’s adventure through the Berlin underworld just drags on while Duck and Bill keep doing their random shenanigans.  

It seems that Leo is becoming a problem for Cactus and Duck’s business. We know that their story arcs are going to cross and we will seem to be getting somewhere. The story finally meets after Leo finally puts it together that Bill followed them the night Naddirah disappeared. He snuck into their apartment, drugged them and kidnapped Naddirah. We also find out Duck has been messing with Leo, secretly giving him clues about how to find Naddirah. It is obvious the two have a past connection with Naddirah. 

We are approaching the film’s final act and the pace finally picks up as Leo storms into the Foreign Dreams nightclub. The tension continues to build as Leo discovers Bill and Duck’s parlor where they do all of their surgeries. I feel like Leo is getting close to finding Naddirah. Bill and Leo finally meet. Leo is horrified to find Naddirah dead. He lashes out at Bill and ends up putting his knife through his throat. We find out Bill was responsible for killing Naddirah. Duck then takes an injured Leo (who he does some surgery on to try and fix his voicebox) where he is planning to kill him. Leo then knocks them both into the water where he chokes Duck to death.

I can honestly say after watching this movie that I was very disappointed. I did enjoy the performances in this film and the visuals were excellent. I feel that Jones did a unique perspective on futuristic Berlin. I do feel that the story dragged for a bit and it took too long for the story to make sense and I do feel that might influence how some people see the film.

2018 has been an interesting year for Netflix original films and I hope we see some improvements after the visual blunder that was Mute.

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