Netflix's latest big-budget sci-fi movie Mute is getting torn to pieces by critics. It follows in the footsteps of the streaming service's previous two futuristic offerings (Bright and The Cloverfield Paradox), both of which were also subjected to some particularly horrendous reviews. And unfortunately for Netflix, there's more than a few critics that are calling Mute the worst of the bunch.
Mute is the brainchild of writer/director Duncan Jones, who had initially conceived of the film years ago and had planned to make it as a spiritual sequel to his renowned 2009 debut feature, Moon. He ended up helming the similarly-acclaimed Source Code and the big-budget disaster Warcraft instead, but he's now circled back to his passion project thanks to Netflix. With a talented trio of stars in Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux, Mute was shaping up to be a return to form for both the filmmaker and the streaming giant.
And then we actually got a look at it. Mute certainly isn't the worst sci-fi movie in recent memory, but it falls short of almost every imaginable expectation. The film focuses on two story arcs (that of Skarsgård's silent/boring hero, and the creepy doctor duo of Rudd and Theroux) that simply don't coalesce in an effective way, and its clear homages to previous sci-fi hits like Blade Runner feel more like retreads than anything else. The idea behind Netflix picking up and producing the projects that are deemed too risky by the rest of Tinseltown is an encouraging one, but as the company's list of critical failures continues to grow, one can't help but wonder if that trend will continue. If they keep churning out duds like Mute, we can't imagine it will. Read on for the Most Brutal Reviews of Mute.
The Moon director has delivered a catastrophically misjudged riff on Blade Runner with an astoundingly dull performance from Alexander Skårsgard ... Skårsgard simply occupies space onscreen. If acting is music, he is noise, a series of vaguely related sounds ... The problem is that Jones couldn’t hold up his end of the bargain and deliver work that rates even as “interesting”, the last salvation of flagrantly terrible movies. -- The Guardian (UK)
Duncan Jones’ impressive 2009 feature, Moon, feels more like a fluke with every subsequent entry into his filmography ... you’ll spend the two-hours-and-six-minutes feeling embarrassed for him, and you will watch it, because it’s fascinating to try and work out why anyone felt there was a film to be made here, let alone on this scale ... The film somehow simultaneously looks like it cost $100 million and $100,000. -- Independent (UK)
Its arrival on Netflix this weekend suggests that the content-ravenous streaming service add a new category alongside “Trending Now” and “See It Again”: “Because You Literally Have Nothing Else To Watch” ... Mute has apparently been that story he could never let go. Its realization, however, lacks all the attributes one saw in Moon: smarts, humanity, cleverness, and craft. It’s legitimately difficult, from scene to scene, to determine what exactly about the increasingly lurid and far-fetched Mute made it necessary to be told. -- The Wrap
Jones's new movie might be Netflix’s worst sci-fi film yet ... Unfortunately, unlike last year's Blade Runner 2049 (the film it desperately tries to emulate), Mute is an absolute bore ... Unlike The Cloverfield Paradox and Bright, which had the “eh, I'm lazy, and since I pay for Netflix why not” factor working for it, Mute is a punishing watch. I'd be fascinated to see the data on how many people don’t even make it halfway through. -- Popular Mechanics
Mute possesses so little sense of style, of directorial muscularity, that it fizzles out long before its 125 minutes are up. It’s a film seemingly lacking in movement, its few recourses to kineticism (in the form of two driving sequences) prove shockingly edited and misplaced respectively, while Clint Mansell’s score works overtime to plaster the directorial cracks. A dust-up with a German lump who’s been hanging in the background of scenes like Chekhov’s Fist, disappears before it even begins, as though a scene is missing. The promise of Jones’ first three features – yep, even Warcraft – all but vanishes with Mute. -- Little White Lies
Mute is such a mystifying failure it will leave you speechless. Mute is premiering on Netflix, which despite the streaming service’s prestige factor, feels like a dumping ground. In theaters, you may be inclined to see this mess through to the end. At home, you can just turn it off. -- The Detroit News
Mute is a disjointed, nihilistic trip through two distinct storylines that have almost nothing to do with each other ... By the time Mute draws to its somewhat rewarding conclusion, you’re left with an unfortunate, hollow feeling. The film is so unrelentingly nasty, so unapologetically misanthropic, that you almost have to respect it…but that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it. -- /Film
I’d argue that the Netflix movie isn’t even as interesting as his 2016 blockbuster Warcraft, a CGI-laden mess of a video-game adaptation that was admirably ambitious (if, ultimately, a creative failure). No, Mute commits the far worse sin of simply being dull, and running through its amateur gumshoe plot with a curious lack of zeal. All the futuristic dressing in the world can’t save the film—which Jones has described as a passion project—from feeling like a warmed-over Law & Order episode ... Rudd and Theroux do their best to have fun, but the movie’s miserable tone is actively competing against them at every turn. -- The Atlantic
The biggest problem comes down to pacing. The movie takes too long to go anywhere, and so it’s the kind of movie that you get an hour into before you realize that you don’t care about what’s happening. Ultimately, “Mute” is a mishmash of ideas in search of a movie. -- RogerEbert.com
Duncan Jones has shown himself to be a very capable director of short-story-ish sci-fi in films like Moon and Source Code, but he tests the limits of human patience with Mute, a flabbergasting techno-noir wannabe that follows a silent, wood-whittling Amish lug (Alexander Skarsgård) as he tries to find his missing Iranian girlfriend in near-future Berlin without the help of a computer ... With an insipid script, no narrative line, and a cast of unlikable characters, Mute has to get by on looks—neon Cold War hand-me-downs with all the workmanship of journeyman TV ... It has as little to say as its protagonist. Possibly less, even. -- AV Club
Next: Mute’s Ending Explained