Duncan Jones' new Netflix movie Mute is not as bad as some critics are saying (I didn't find it "almost unwatchable" for instance) but it had two big strikes against it from the get-go - first, we just expect better when the director of Moon and Source Code decides to make a new sci-fi movie. Especially with a cast like Alexander Skarsgård, Justin Theroux, and Paul Rudd. And second -- Mute came out the same weekend as Annihilation, which proved Alex Garland (who's also from London and is only one year older than Jones, almost to the day) could return triumphantly and then some to the genre. Mute is no Annihilation.
But Mute does have this magnificent library in it, so it can't be all bad! I wasn't sure if it was real or a set but I knew the film was shot in Berlin so a quick google solved that question and turned up the Grimm Library at Humboldt University; see more pictures here. That place is a wow. Honestly the sets and location shooting on Mute is probably its true highlight - the movie looks great. Expensive. And I appreciated the fact that for all its cribbing from Blade Runner visually it tried to set its own tone and tell a different sort of story than we're used to seeing set in these worlds.
And I also appreciated all of the swimming sequences.
But the film does ultimately end up erring on the side of incoherent - by the last half you're not really sure what you're supposed to be rooting for. I wasn't even sure what the characters were doing half the time by that point - only when the revelations about what was happening started revealing themselves did I realize those were the questions I was supposed to be asking. That's a problem.
I know, it hurts my head too, Alex.