Mute (2018) – It Doesn’t Need Words

After the brilliant menacing yet spectacular experience in “Moon” and “Source Code”, David Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, back to carry out a project he had long since. This time, he is working with Netflix to create an extraordinary attractive project. The mishmash of “Warcraft: The Beginning” also made the director’s appeal seem to diminish. Being an illustration of the follow-up project, “Mute” comes with the creation of cyberpunk in the style of “Blade Runner 2049” and “Altered Carbon”.

Cyberpunk, a genre that starts relevance both from video games and other pop culture. This genre isn’t much different from things such as mystery, science fiction, portraits of modern life, and an alienating world. In “Mute”, Jones takes you into such a world but with excessive imagination. This film alludes to beliefs where there are many strange things in this universe. Similar to “Blade Runner” or “Total Recall” where there are lots of weird things like robot sex, the aesthetic world, and post-modernist art.

The story is about a kid, Leo (Alexander Skarsgård). In a natural world close to the future, Leo had an accident. The accident breaks his vocal cords and he was mute. At the time, the damage vocal cords were just a thing. However, his parents refused. They were Amish family. Precisely, they limit the use of modern technology. “Mute” has tremendous potential. The cyberpunk genre with Amish beliefs is such a combination, though, which is difficult to think about it. However, it doesn’t mean the movie was good overall.

“Mute” leaps forcibly on Leo’s life after adulthood. The first sequence of the movie, if you throw it away, doesn’t really matter. There is no big impact on the story. It’s the main presentation of the film. Jones and Michael Robert Johnson, the screenwriter, seemed unsuccessful in showing a better story. In fact, this film makes this future world full of empty potential. As well as the main character who is empty. Actually, this film has many opportunities in the first premise. Unexpectedly, the futuristic world in this film has things it doesn’t make any sense. While “Blade Runner 2049” talks about artificial intelligence that has feelings, I don’t know why Jones alienates the main character.

Just because he was mute doesn’t mean he must be exiled. Moreover, this film doesn’t give us any clear backstory about our lead character. The futuristic world appears through a series of events on issues of rebellion and others. And the movie is also set in the same universe as “Moon”. Duncan Jones calls this film as a spiritual sequel to such the movie. You can see some easter eggs if you look closely at this film. Apart from having robot sex, this futuristic world is able to replace body parts such as robotic hand and feet. Until then, “Mute” became a lost sweetener because of this world.

It’s not wrong if Jones wants to try to focus more on the story of Leo who wants to find the woman he loves, Seyneb Saleh as Naadirah. The movie has the impression of neo-noir as well as “Blade Runner”. Yeah, talking about this film would be easier to compare with the film. The neo-noir at this point focuses on the world that’s trying to alienate Leo. Leo tried to find out who was kidnapping Naadirah. Romanticism is the benchmark and a driver to the main character. Still, Jones forgets that this film has a broad and interesting scope besides focusing on the foundation of the love conflict.

“Mute” became so boring when the film began to tell the conflict. The story, besides focusing on Leo, is told back and forth between the protagonist and antagonist. In this case, we rooting at the protagonist and Jones seemed to be trying as well to make us sympathetic to the antagonist. Paul Rudd as Cactus is just a flat and dull character whether he has a daughter, I don’t feel anything about his character.

Then start “Mute” to be a monotonous movie. The story of Leo’s search for Naadirah is tried to be spiced up with an action, but it feels weird and even absurd. Because from the beginning, it was never told that Leo had extraordinary skills in a fight. Leo so easily beats his enemies. It really becomes dull. Justin Theroux as Duck is also a flat character without something why he was too important in the story. Not to mention, is love itself a strong element when the main character is good at fighting? I think, of course, everyone too, would say no.

The movie takes a long way to the end of the story and you got a lame twist. Duncan Jones wants to make the audience feel burdened at the beginning and then want to kick us with a twist. Briefly, “Mute” tries like to be like that. This film gives an unexpected twist. It’s just that the storytelling makes the film feel less saved until the end. The cast also had a decent performance especially Alexander Skarsgård as the mute yet innocent young man. I thought that this was a film about Leo as the mute who tries to understand his narrow manner world without dialogue. However, Skarsgård is not really bad but it’s just as blank as his wide gaze when he sees something.

I like Duncan Jones as a director whose a lot of potential from most directors in general. But, “Mute” is just an ambitious mixed bag idea by one of the most interesting yet passionately filmmaker. It’s a bag that has a bad day. There is so much misfire you might forget everything. If only Jones could create a universe of his own, like “Moon” and “Mute” itself into one story, I would still wait for him. However, Netflix seems to be the reason why this film failed. I don’t know for sure what really happened.

2.5 out of 5 stars.