What you may need to know:
2. He has described Mute as a spiritual sequel to Moon, in that it is set in the same universe. Eagle-eyed viewers should expect references, veiled or otherwise, to that stark, sorrowful knockout that coaxed the performance of a lifetime out of Sam Rockwell – twice.
3. Jones followed those two up with video game adaptation Warcraft in 2016, which got a bit of a mauling. For that reason, some voices out there have urged viewers to manage their expectations regarding this latest outing.
4. Mute is set in Berlin of the future, a neon-soaked cyberpunk hellhole not unlike Blade Runner’s rain-soaked Los Angeles or the works of William Gibson. This town is populated by losers, psychos, criminals and misfits, including Alexander Skarsgård’s taciturn bartender Leo, whose search for his missing girlfriend (Seyneb Saleh) brings him into the orbit of two volatile American surgeons (Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux).
5. Mute is Jones’ Don Quixote. He tells Uproxx the film has been in the works for 16 years; even with the critical success he has (mostly) enjoyed, studios have turned his script down time and time again. The interview also simply describes Mute as “insane”, while Jones himself calls it “dark and weird”; make of that what you will.
6. Enter Netflix, which has both the money and the canvas to take creative risks like this. No matter how it turns out, it’s a shame a film with clearly such a strong visual element will never be seen in cinemas. The cinematic landscape is changing though; whether anybody likes it or not. So rather than a churlish refusal to embrace change (we’re looking at you, Christopher Nolan), Jones has opted to change with it. He has lamented, however, that the film will never get a Blu-ray release – or the packaging design possibilities that come with it.
7. I call it Don Quixote above, but Jones himself has called Mute “Casablanca of the future”; an evocative and alluring possibility – hence the stunning poster which loudly recalls that WW2 masterpiece. Someone should tell him though – we already got our Casablanca of the future in Barb Wire (1996) starring Pamela Anderson. No, really.
8. Going by Duncan Jones’ own word, Mute won’t be for everyone. That’s the point of it though. We complain that cinemas are overflowing with superhero and comic book films, which they are. Studios won’t go near anything that isn’t a guaranteed money-maker. It’s why you don’t see much from creatively idiosyncratic filmmakers, whose first objective is to challenge their audiences, outside of the festival circuits. Tastes will come back around eventually, but before they do we should embrace films like this whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Verdict: Shout it from the rooftops
Release: February 23.