Mute Review Roundup: What Do Critics Think of Netflix's New Original Sci-Fi Movie?

Maybe it's best to watch this one on mute.


Netflix isn't having the best of luck with its recent genre-focused original movies. Bright--starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton as buddy cops, one of which is an orc--was shredded by critics upon release. Still, the streaming service claims the movie is a success and ordered a sequel. After that, the streamer released The Cloverfield Paradox with little warning, and it suffered a similar critical fate.

Many were hoping this course would change with the arrival of Mute, the new film by Moon, Source Code, and Warcraft director Duncan Jones. Both Moon and Source Code received critical acclaim upon their release. Given that Mute had been positioned as something of a spiritual sequel to the former, it seemed like a home run.

And yet, somehow, things went horribly wrong. The first Mute reviews are in and they aren't exactly glowing. With a score of 35 on GameSpot sister site Metacritic, it's hard to find anyone who loved the movie. Before you decide whether to invest the time yourself, take a look at a sampling of reviews below.

  • Movie: Mute
  • Studio: Netflix
  • Release date: February 23


"From Netflix and Duncan Jones, Mute promised to be a return to form for the director and writer behind the instant classic 2009 mind-bender Moon (and, more recently, the less-than-classic Warcraft). Unfortunately, Mute is a cartoonish, nonsensical, tone-deaf, derivative, outrageously awful nightmare without a single redeeming quality. Bummer, right?" -- Michael Rougeau [Full review]


"The main problem with Mute is that it doesn't use its technologically-advanced backdrop to say anything new. There are hints of a war in Kandahar via a news video, problems with cloning, and a large number of American soldiers going AWOL, but other than those brief glimpses, co-writer/director Duncan Jones (Warcraft, Moon) has created a world that feels empty." -- David Griffin [Full review]

The Guardian

"In the parallel universe where everything's gone right for Jones, this long-labored-over passion project would have been his magnum opus, an idiosyncratically imagined futuro-fantasia worthy of the Blade Runner comparisons it so shamelessly courts. But while Jones has never been lacking in ambition, here that quality seems more like a willingness to 'go for it'. The depth of his creative commitment hasn't turned shallow, but it has been applied to a collection of perilously bad impulses." -- Charles Bramesco [Full review]


"Here's where I should be clear that Mute isn't a good movie. It manages to be both bizarre and boring. While I admire Jones' inventive details like a bowling ball that looks like a giant die, or a severed cow cartoon shilling for steak, or the way cell phones have advanced to where people don’t acknowledge they’ve answered a ring before screaming hello into a startled room, the film simply looks cheap." -- Amy Nicholson [Full review]

The Wrap

"A dystopian noir that’s neither especially compelling as a vision of the future nor as a hard-bitten mystery — much less as a quirky tale about a woodwork-gifted anti-hero — 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.'" -- Robert Abele [Full review]


"Mute is a disjointed, nihilistic trip through two distinct storylines that have almost nothing to do with each other--save for the fact that they inhabit the same world. Slowly, these storylines do come together, but never in a convincing or satisfying way. The end result is a frustrating film--one loaded with potential, but lacking distinction." -- Chris Evangelista [Full review]


"Got an old screenplay in your bottom drawer that's been rejected by practically everyone in town? Now's your chance: Netflix seems to be greenlighting second-rate 'content' like cinema was going out of style (and if the company's stream-at-home strategy succeeds, it just might). The latest beneficiary is Moon director Duncan Jones, who dusted off a 15-year-old idea, attached a few name actors, and delivered the latest disappointing Netflix Original with alliterative Mute, an over-designed but otherwise uninspired slice of sci-fi noir." -- Peter Debruge [Full review]

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