Mute (2018)
February 25, 2018 12:20 PM - Subscribe

A mute bartender goes up against his city's gangsters in an effort to find out what happened to his missing partner.

Mute is a passion project for Duncan Jones, and set in the world of his previous science fiction film Moon. It has been poorly received by critics, sitting at 10% on Rotten Tomatoes.
posted by graventy (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I started watching this the other day and stopped. But I swear they are reusing sets from Altered Carbon.
posted by Catblack at 1:51 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oof. Moon is one of my favorite sci-fi films, and Source Code was such an unexpected pleasure. Mute was...not. Not that. I watched it with another person, and after the film ended we both agreed that we would have stopped watching long before the end if we'd been alone.

(This is the first time I found myself really leaning into those "Netflix is actually bad" takes.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 1:55 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's just...kind of a jumbled mess. It's inspired by Blade Runner, and it shows in the city and the neon, but I don't remember Blade Runner being this obtuse. Paul Rudd really kind of hams it up as an awful person, only barely out-awful-ed by his partner the pedophile.
posted by graventy at 3:00 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah. When Leo opened the freezer and Naadirah wasn't there, I briefly hoped she might be alive. But then of course she turned up under the tarp in the corner, AND we got treated to the lovely murder flashback. By the time the repulsive Justin Theroux character let the loathsome Paul Rudd character die (with the comeuppance that Rudd's child would be the newest victim), I was miserable. And not in a transported-by-the-magic-of-powerful-cinema way. This is such an ugly little movie. WHY.
posted by grandiloquiet at 3:36 PM on February 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

i had a LOT of thoughts about this thing. here are just a few:

-paul rudd and justin theroux should have played each other’s characters. i understand the appeal of casting against type but seriously it would have made for a much better movie.

-more of a Moon connection would have been welcome. it felt like there was absolutely no reason for this story to be set in the future except for that connection and it was so absurdly minor (and the “courtroom scene from another story” trope is so overused it was also the most CLICHE way to make that connection).

-music was bad. i usually like clint mansell but the syrupy strings over the first half of the movie really took me out, as did the instrumental adaption of “heart shaped box” used during the voice box installlation scene, i guess because it’s a totally inexplicable to me.

-saarsgard was amazing but the camera never stayed on his face long enough to really let him do his thing - in a film where your main character can’t talk those long takes are essential.

-the theme of the movie being revealed in literally only the last shot and the dedication was so amateurish. if that was the film duncan wanted to make he should have condensed what we got into like forty minutes and had the rest be Leo raising Josie. would have made for a much better movie tbh.

-i really wanted to like this. when it got panned i was even hoping for an ambitious mess, i can really dig into those movies. this was mostly boring though. and then when it picks up, and i was starting to FINALLY enjoy it there was that scene where Duck went to Josie’s room... for a minute i thought Duncan’s career was over. but no he only HINTED at that awful thing. didn’t make me feel any better about what i was watching.

-and even THEN the movie throws away any momentum it had left as we’re left with ten solid minutes of justin theroux inspidly monologuing at saarsgard. this was the movies nadir. anyone who’s seen the leftovers knows the problem here wasn’t theroux, it was the writing.

what a fuckin mess.
posted by JimBennett at 5:02 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

My husband loved it. He's super into genre and noire and was engrossed. He told me today that he keeps thinking about it still.

I found it boring, misogynist. incoherent and derivative.

Potato, potahto, I guess.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:51 PM on February 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm dropping a note here to mention that it's on Netflix.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:07 PM on February 25, 2018

Guys, I'm worried about Duncan Jones now.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:17 AM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


And that's William Gibson's twitter? *boggles*

Guys, I'm also worried about William Gibson now.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:36 AM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

Well, I liked it too. It's sort of a mood movie, very atmospheric. I found it riveting, and was pleased by a lot of aesthetic aspects of it. There were a few Cactus Bill scenes with raucous music that felt out of place, though--that's my biggest criticism. And I'm not sure that's a legit complaint because Skarsgard's character was wholly and deliberately out of place.

Yes, there were awful people doing awful things in this, and horrible fates for most characters. I was disappointed by the fridging too, and some content was ugly. People are totally within their rights to feel badly about that. But neo-noir is often brutal. That's what I expect...

I agree that it's amateurish in some ways. The first story that I ever wrote with intent to publish was a future story with dual protagonists, one of whom was mute... So now I feel weird about that. I've seen criticism of the scattered focus of this film, but I don't think it's doing anything we don't regularly tolerate from TV drama.

I have to mention the David Wain references, too. "It's just a goof," from The Ten, and Rudd sarcastically acting exhausted just like in Wet Hot American Summer. And having Rudd and Theroux on screen together was a welcome flashback to Wanderlust.

Anyway, I'm still thinking about this movie and look forward to seeing it again. Like Warcraft, I thought this was not flawless, but it was innovative and surprisingly nuanced sometimes, and I'm bummed that people aren't enjoying it.
posted by heatvision at 9:25 AM on February 26, 2018

It's really difficult to believe this was made by the creator of Moon. That movie is one of my favorites, too, and the things I love about it are striking in their absence here. It was a thoughtful, well-observed, prosaic meditation, where Mute is a jangly mess of cliches that traded shock value for introspection. I felt almost insulted at the way Moon was reduced to a some goofball references in the background. In looking up the details for Moon I see that it was co-written by Nathan Parker, who wrote Equals, a movie I've been intrigued by on Netflix a couple of times but I haven't watched it yet. I'll have to check it out and see if maybe Jones gets more credit for Moon than he deserves.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:02 AM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Was it just me, or was Rudd with pornstache a call back to movie-MASH Trapper John and blonde Theroux a Hawkeye Pierce? I mean, give them both some white surgeon beanie caps and a reference to “The pros from Dover” and it’s definitely Gould and Sutherland, together again.
posted by valkane at 11:09 AM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I read something to the effect that it was an intentional reference.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:10 AM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Re: MASH --It was not just you, Jones has said in interviews that it's meant to be an homage to MASH.

Count me among the disappointed. I found the whole thing to be a bit of a mess, too long and boring in parts, and too tropey in others. I think I found Rudd's performance to be the most interesting, though while the movie hinted at his having a hair trigger it never really showed it much (OK, yeah, Naadi and the security guard, but the former was a plot device and the latter got off scot-free).

Skarsgard was fine but his character being mute AND Amish made all the noir detective elements into a slog. It feels like Jones hit upon the idea of "what if Deckard but NO TALKING and TECHNOLOGICALLY INCOMPETENT" and fell in love with it, sticking with it despite the fact that it made for a worse movie.

Duck being a pedophile felt almost like an afterthought. It's the most obvious way of putting him at odds with Cactus Bill (whose defining characteristcs are (1) loves his kid and (2) will literally murder/torture anyone else).

I never could figure out what the hell was going on with Luba. He seemed simultaneously to be gay and in love with Naadi? Why does he tase Skarsgard then just... leave him on the floor in his apartment? Honestly by this point in the movie I was kind of zoning in and out so maybe I missed something.
posted by axiom at 7:13 PM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Strange Interlude: "@GreatDismal

And that's William Gibson's twitter? *boggles*

Guys, I'm also worried about William Gibson now.

Eh, he was over the top in enthusiasm for Chappie too.
posted by octothorpe at 1:22 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

"My husband loved it. He's super into genre and noire and was engrossed. He told me today that he keeps thinking about it still.

I found it boring, misogynist. incoherent and derivative.

Potato, potahto, I guess."

soren_lorensen, you're one of my most favorite Mefites ever and I'm going to tell you that I found this movie really misogynist, super incoherent and inescapably derivative... but I liked It anyway.

Don't throw things at me, please...
posted by blessedlyndie at 7:35 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I really wanted to like this. The setting and art direction were amazing and future noir is about my favorite genre. And I have loved Duncan Jones' past work. But this left me between annoyed, bored and vaguely offended.

The acting, especially by Seyneb Saleh (I'm sorry to say) was terrible. I'm a fan of Alexander Skarsgård's as a general rule, but not here. Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux were okay.

Maybe I missed something. I loved some things (the drone food delivery was awesome). But mostly it felt really thin and unfinished. Like they had a vague stoner idea that never really got properly thought through.
posted by biscotti at 3:38 PM on March 1, 2018

I just finished watching this and after the creativity of Moon and the cool-genre-ness of Looper, I was disappointed that it was so generic. Take out the futuristic stuff and the plot is much the same as a dozen Hollywood action movies.

The moment I stopped hoping for better was when we found out Rudd-stache had killed Naadirah. That prevented any chance of us finding out anything about her, why she had been with Rudd, what her plan was, what it was she saw in Leo. She was just a plot device, like the little girl. A ball in the competition between men, as someone once said.

Also being Amish is not a substitute for a personality, and neither is blue hair.

I’m willing to be persuaded that it’s not so bad, because I want to believe. But right now it’s just very disappointing.
posted by harriet vane at 7:30 AM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oops, turns out that Looper was Rian Johnson, not Duncan Jones. Sorry.
posted by harriet vane at 7:49 AM on March 4, 2018

I really liked the hero and the villain, mostly because their performance was so great... And Naad! Such a compelling leading lady! The pedo pretending to be her, her insipid end... It was a great movie ruined by misogyny and general male grossness.

The visual impact of the movie is hard to overstate, it's gorgeous and entrancing.

I will say the single greatest fight scene in cinema history happened in this film, and only the very end was caught on a security cam in the background. The rest of it is up to the viewers' imagination. Awesome.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:18 PM on March 7, 2018

Having this movie take place in a sci-fi universe seemed pointless. Flying cars? Really? It take 10 minutes for a taxi to land?

Why was Leo's sister featured at the beginning? What was the point of the conversation with the commanding officer? Who are these dudes with the white eyes? Don't show me a scene with a pedophile taping a young girl. I don't want to see that.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:52 PM on March 9, 2018

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