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One Movie Punch

Feb 24, 2018

Today’s movie is “Mute”, the science-fiction neo-noir thriller directed by Duncan Jones and written in collaboration with Michael Robert Johnson. The film follows Leo (Alexander Skarsgård), a mute Amish bartender whose girlfriend Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh) disappears into the super slimy underworld of futuristic Berlin. Like seriously slimy.

How slimy you ask? Well, there’s Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd), an underground surgeon for the local mob, and his pedophile partner Duck (Justin Theroux), which is hella awkward since Cactus Bill has a young daughter named Josie (Mia-Sophie & Lea-Marie Bastin). The bars. The brothels. The black market. Did I mention the sex robots? Honestly, this film is like some depraved individual filled out a Mad Lib.

It’s not the subject matter that bothers me, per se, but how it is presented. But when it comes to pedophilia, in today’s climate, even a little can be too much. And this film has way, way too much. I would even say an uncomfortable fascination with it, so much that the rest of the story suffers because of it. Not a fan of using an Amish protagonist to exploit his technological illiteracy as a plot device, either.

I thought Skarsgård, Rudd and Theroux turned in good performances, despite the story and subject material. The visuals are excellently rendered, but feel way too much like a slimier, sexed up Blade Runner. Ultimately, the film feels too long, wasting too much time on visuals throughout. The last fifteen minutes feel completely unnecessary, even if it does tie up a few loose ends.

“Mute” (2018) is 100% eye candy, whether that’s sex or violence or colors or the occasional camera trick. It suffers from the same problem as last year’s “Bright”, a rich and immersive world serving as the backdrop to a lackluster story. It is passable fare for science-fiction fans, as long as you can stomach the subject matter. Otherwise, I would give it a heavy pass.

Rotten Tomatoes: 9%

Metacritic: 35

One Movie Punch: 3.0/10

“Mute” is rated TV-MA and is currently playing in selected theaters and streaming on Netflix.