AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, TV PERSONALITY
Mute follows in the footsteps of the streaming service’s previous two futuristic offerings, Bright and The Cloverfield Paradox, both of which were subjected to some particularly horrendous reviews, yet the streaming service continues without fear, so it seems, to go down the same slippery slope time after time. And, unfortunately for Netflix, there’s more than a few critics this time around calling Mute the worst of the bunch to date.
Regular visitors to my site will know that neither Bright nor The Cloverfield Paradox received a review from me. Not because I didn’t enjoy them or because I hated them; I was just indifferent and felt every other vulture had already picked off every inch of meat there was to be had and had already summarised what there was to say about the two Netflix movies, so take from that what you will.
Mute is the brainchild of writer/director Duncan Jones, who had initially conceived the project years ago and was originally said to have planned to make it as a spiritual sequel to his renowned 2009 debut, Moon. However, he ended up helming the similarly-acclaimed Source Code and the big-budget CGI disaster Warcraft instead, but he’s now come full circle and returned to his passion project, thanks to the good people at Netflix. With a stellar cast that includes Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux, Mute looked on paper like it was shaping up to be a return to form for both the filmmaker and the streaming giant.
And then the project was dropped! Mute, while not the worst sci-fi movie in recent history, does fall short in almost every imaginable expectation, which is a pity because the concept still looks okay on paper– it’s just badly conceived. The film focuses on two story arcs that range from predictably boring, in which Skårsgard simply occupies space onscreen, to occasionally creepy, thanks to solid performances from Rudd and Theroux, but the two stories fail miserably to come together to form one effective mass, and the film’s nods and winks to previous sci-fi hits like Blade Runner feel more like forced re-treads than anything else, and the moments that do offer a pleasant riff lack movement, leading me to suspect that Duncan Jones’ 2009 thoughtful, poignant masterpiece, Moon, was simply a fluke.
I originally put a lot of the negative press down to non-Sci-Fi fans popping their heads around the door to see if Theroux’s performance revealed any signs that his marriage to Jennifer Aniston was over, but by the 10 minute mark I immediately witnessed the glaringly obvious problems many had already written about, and by the time the film’s credits rolled I was left feeling embarrassed for Jones. It’s fascinating to try and work out why he or anyone at Netflix felt there was a feature film to be made here, let alone on this scale. As two separate shorts they may have worked. Sure, the idea behind Netflix hand picking projects often deemed too risky by Hollywood standards is an encouraging one, but as the company’s list of critical failures grows, one can’t help but wonder if that trend will continue and if Hollywood deems the film too risky. Maybe it should, too!
Mute has no sense of style or pace and fizzles out long before its 125 minutes are up. What should have been prestigious premiere for Netflix ends up feeling like a dumping ground for a film that not even the Walmart bargain bin would want. Avoid!
Mute is available on Netflix now.
Netflix’s latest big-budget sci-fi, Mute, isn’t really a film I’d actively seek out but with its critical mauling I thought I’d visit the car crash for myself and inspect the victims first hand.
Review / Published 10 March 2023 @ 20:00 PM
Liberty Films UK
23 February 2023
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