What The Mute/Moon Shared Universe Means
Beyond providing us with a stealth Moon 2, what does all this crossover really mean? On the face of it, it's all a bit of fun, some added value in Mute to fans of the director's previous films. Hardly surprising given Jones' sci-fi credentials; this is exactly what fans often theorize about, finding ways to place various films in the same world.
Related: Does Mute Have An End-Credits Scene?
Neither is this necessarily new. Two decades before Blade Runner 2049 provided a proper sequel to Ridley Scott's classic, the Kurt Russel-starring Soldier gave a taste of that movie's off-world colonies, featuring battered spinners and even revealing the Tannhauser Gate. More obtusely, earlier this month The Cloverfield Paradox connected up to the original found footage monster movie (albeit in a rather obtuse fashion). Of course, what Mute's done is a lot more focused given both films are from Duncan Jones and the idea has been present from early on in the film's development.
But, putting aside the innate excitement factor, was this actually done well? The Sam Bell courtroom scene is played for laughs, which is fair given Rockwell's comedic timing and the snapshot manner, but it undercuts the strength of the background narrative. There's also the fact that the same press statement clip is played multiple times on different days, which gets repetitive and begins to break down the sense of a living universe outside the events of the movie. Although neither of these are the real problem.
The Moon/Mute Timeline Doesn't Work
The big problem here (albeit one that it must be stressed doesn't matter too much given how slight the references amount to), is that the timeline doesn't feasibly work.
Moon is set in 2035, and while no date for Mute is given, the synopsis says it's set "forty years from today". That would put it in 2058, over two decades on from its predecessor. Despite this gap, the Sam Bell clones don't only look the same, they're still alive. It's heavily implied in Moon that the clones have an in-built three-year lifespan to better control them; the long-serving Sam becomes fatally ill by the end of the movie, and security footage shows this happened to previous versions before Lunar Industries incinerated them.
It's possible that the Sam Bells were only recently woken up, or that Mute's synopsis isn't accurate, but based on the evidence there's a discrepancy.
None of this is to downplay the giddy thrill seeing Rockwell turn up in Mute provides (it's the highlight of an otherwise disappointing film): it merely shows how it doesn't really go beyond cheeky wink, not hinting at any grander plan.
- Mute (2018) release date: Feb 23, 2018