Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Seyneb Saleh
Directed by: Duncan Jones, Michael Robert Johnson
Written by: Duncan Jones
Rating: R Running Time: 2 hr 6 min.
My 2 Cents:
Alexander Skarsgård plays Leo, an Amish mute bartender (yes really) living in Berlin, Germany in the near future. Paul Rudd plays a fellow called Cactus Bill, an A.W.O.L. American soldier trying to secure paperwork to get back to the United States. These two men don’t know each other, but their paths cross when Leo’s girlfriend, Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh) goes missing. Violence and confusion ensue.
An A.W.O.L. soldier, an Amish mute bartender, a creepy pedophile, gangsters, prostitutes, all bouncing off each other in a near future wannabe Blade Runner-esk setting. If that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, you’d be mostly right. Mute is directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code, Warcraft) and it seems like he’s bitten off more story than he can tell.
Having a low tech Amish protagonist navigate a grim tech noir world, is actually a pretty interesting idea for a movie. Combining that, however, with Paul Rudd’s over-the-top turn as a bad-tempered ex-soldier, and you end up with a convoluted plot littered with blink and you’ll miss them clues. Who’s who, why it matters, and where everything is located in relationship to each other is never properly established. Each of the film’s main elements might have worked as a separate story, but together, it’s a disappointing mess.
Throughout the film there are glimpses of something special here. But for every ray of neon light, there was a shadowy dank story killing hole. Alexander Skarsgård was great as Leo, whereas Paul Rudd is completely miscast. Leo’s love story was worth watching, but Cactus Bill’s actions were constantly at odds with his goals. For every futuristic colorful tech-rich shot of Berlin we got, there were shots of greener pastures, or regular 20th century living that seemed out-of-place. Mute, unfortunately, turns out to be a hodgepodge of ideas that needed more time to ferment.