Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Fleeting Reference to 'Moon' Is the Best Thing About 'Mute'

Mute is a neo-noir science fiction film from Duncan Jones, known for Moon and Source Code – two great sci-fi movies.  Set in 2035 Berlin, it follows Leo (Alexander Skarsgård), a man left mute by a childhood accident and an Amish upbringing, as he scours the city’s darkest streets and corners for the missing Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh), the love of his life.  His search soon gets him entangled with gangsters, prostitutes, and deplorable AWOL US Army surgeons (Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux), leading him to uncover Naadirah’s secrets.

I was very interested of watching Mute because: a.) I really enjoyed Duncan Jones’ previous films (yes, even the critically panned film adaptation of Warcraft), and I expected to en joy this movie as well; and b.) this is supposedly a “spiritual sequel” to Moon.  However, it turns out Mute is not really a sequel in the technical sense of the word.  But it does establish that the two movies share a universe.  Scattered across the movie are GERTY and Lunar Industries Easter eggs.  And this one scene, a news footage of the Sam Bell clones (Sam Rockwell cameo) testifying in court is shown.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is less exciting than that few seconds’ worth of Moon reference.  There is something to like about its attempt to be a legitimate film noir that just happens to be set on a futuristic cyberpunk world.  However, the narrative is completely cluttered and unimaginative, lacks consistent substance and thrills, and feels pointless in the end.  Furthermore, though it achieves some stylistic highs from combining film noir with scifi, other movies have already done this before and had much better results.

Mute isn’t exactly an awful movie.  It’s visually polished and the performances are good – especially from Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux, who seem to be having fun with their characters.  It’s an okay watch.  But you would expect something more from the filmamaker that brought you Moon.  Hence, this movie comes off as disappointingly inconsequential.

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