It’s important that I remind everyone that I didn’t hate the Warcraft movie. I was addicted to World of Warcraft (2016) for a time and had invested a lot in learning the lore. Thus, I found enjoyment in Duncan Jones film based on the IP I still had love for. I also loved Moon (2009) and liked Source Code (2011), so when I heard that he was doing a futuristic noir film with Paul Rudd, I anticipated that I would love it. Unfortunately, the only thing I liked about Mute (2018) was Rudd, and his performance wasn’t enough to save this movie.
Mute is a disappointing effort from Jones
Leo (Alexander Skarsgård) lost his voice as a child after a freak propeller accident damaged his vocal cords, and his Amish lifestyle prevented him from have the restorative surgery. Skip ahead to the adult Amish-mute stuck in a futuristic Berlin, where technology is everywhere and he couldn’t be more out of place. Fortunately, he has love in the way of Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh)…or at least he did until she goes missing. Determined to figure out what happened to her, Leo sets out with little information and nothing but obstacles in his way.
Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) was a medic for the U.S. Military who is now stuck in Berlin after going AWOL. He’s stuck working as a doctor for hire, for what appears to be the Russian Mafia while he awaits papers for his daughter and himself. Paired with his friend and fellow surgeon, Duck (Justin Theroux), he’ll stop at nothing to ensure his daughter is safe and that they are back home. Does it sound like two different movies going on here? Well, it’ll feel like that too, until the two stories have meshed together in a way that feels about as forced as smiling during a prostate exam.
It’s terrible to contemplate the various directions this story could have gone that seem like they would have been so much better than what was actually cut together and tossed into the bottomless pit of movies we call Netflix. Cactus Bill is an immensely interesting and complex character that should have had his own film. Instead, we are primarily stuck with a non-charismatic Leo who would have alone had a hard enough time navigating the neon-soaked Berlin as an Amish, even without the simple ability to speak. Though Naadirah speaks a lot in the first half-hour of the movie, she actually just keeps repeating that she can’t tell him something or that she has a secret so she might as well had been mute too, as the words she uttered basically had no meaning. Why did he need to be Mute for this story to work? Maybe it was so we could get a cool scene (read that last phrase with a sarcastic tone) where the food service machine required him to speak a phone number, despite the fact that the rest of the process was touchscreen, and a guy with smartphone eyeballs had to step up and say the number for him. It really served no purpose to the story being told, but made for a kind of bland protagonist.
The film is overlong with an even odder ending than expected. There are a lot of things that I’d like to point out, especially involving Theroux’s character, but it would all require lots of spoilers. While I think that it would save all of you some time to just ruin the film right now, I’ll refrain and let you decide if you want to endure this movie. Paul Rudd’s performance was enough to make me give this film the Not a Total Waste of Time rating, but just barely.