By Daniel Howat
Final Score: 3/10
Duncan Jones’ Mute, is a futuristic, film-noirish world filled with neon lights, flying cars, and holographic billboards. Sound familiar? It should. Though it’s interesting to look at, we’ve seen this world time and time again. Worse though, is that the film doesn’t even utilize this setting in any way. It could be set today, if not for the robots in the background of a few scenes. This was a confusing choice that never paid off.
Leo Beiler (Alexander Skarsgård) suffered an accident as a child, causing him to go mute. He could have had surgery to fix it, but his Amish mother didn’t believe in surgery. Flash-forward into the future, and he’s remained Amish all these years, though it doesn’t have anything further to do with the plot of the film. He’s a bartender in a club and sulks his way through the world with his girlfriend Naadirah. Since Leo can’t speak, Naadirah verbalizes everything that pops into her brain. There’s no subtext when she’s around.
She’s not around for long, though, as she disappears fairly early on. In most films, our hero would spring into action. Not in _Mut_e. There’s not a hint of urgency in this film. It wasn’t clear if Naadirah was missing since Leo didn’t seem in much of a rush to find her. Forty minutes in and I wasn’t even sure what the plot was yet. Without a consistent running narrative, the film gives the audience nothing to care about or hope for. Despite the sexy neon glow, it remained quite boring.
Before too long we meet Cactus Bill, played with the charisma you would expect from Paul Rudd. The moment he comes on screen it highlights how bland the character of Leo really is. Cactus Bill is weird and unique and interesting, while Leo is generally boring. Justin Theroux also joins the fun as Bill’s friend Duck. The two are often pretty funny to watch and work well together. Still, there’s a fairly serious tone to the film, which occasionally makes their humor feel forced. While more entertaining to watch, Bill and Duck have an unclear relationship to the plot for much of the film.
This becomes a strange theme of the film: randomness. The fact that the movie is set forty years into the future doesn’t have anything to do with the plot. The Berlin setting doesn’t either. Even stranger things come into play, like the fact that Duck is a pedophile, that seem like they don’t really matter. The film spends so much time developing plot points and quirks that serve no real purpose. It’s constantly frustrating. And it makes the plot tough to recap as well because it’s so difficult to grasp the point of the film. Leo searches for Naadirah, but it takes more than an hour before anything starts to get rolling on that search.
Mute never gives the audience anything to care about. Sleek visuals and some good moments from Rudd can’t make up for a dull plot. This film is streaming on Netflix, but there’s nothing to keep you interested for the two hour runtime. Feel free to skip this one.