Muzzle

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“You asked if I have anger management issues. I don’t. I’ve long since let anger win.

You would find it difficult to argue with Jake Rosser (Aaron Eckhart), a disgraced LAPD cop, after witnessing him in action. Jake drives through the streets of Los Angeles, past tent communities that are crammed onto every sidewalk, in the opening sequence of “Muzzle,” a movie that was written and directed by John Stalberg Jr. and Carlyle Eubank. As he travels, Jake, a member of the K-9 team, rants about the state of the world to his dog, Ace. Jake is one of those individuals who bemoans the fact that “literally” no longer means “literally,” and he is unaware of the fact that his complaint is neither profound nor original.

He is uninteresting. There are several intriguing themes in “Muzzle” that aren’t properly explored. There are so many diverse stories, concepts, and threads that they were even Scotch-taped together in the hopes that they would all connect. No, it doesn’t.

Jake is a PTSD-afflicted military veteran who leads a solitary, reclusive life. He’s avoided by most people. Ace loses his life in a gunfight due to a bad call. When an unfortunate paramedic informs the distraught Jake that the dog must wait until he is finished treating the injured human, Jake attacks the paramedic. Jake becomes famous for all the wrong reasons when bystanders’ cellphone videos of the incident are released. He’s been demoted and made to go to therapy.

In some ways, “Muzzle” is a thriller, but it’s also a character study and, in some ways, a look at the bond between police officers and their dogs. Jake, who is mourning Ace, makes the decision to pursue those responsible for the incident, which resulted in the deaths of several police officers, the explosion of a car, and the discovery of fentanyl canisters among the wreckage. Jake encounters dodgy persons, canines that have been trafficked, and companies that are fronts for fentanyl production while on the run. Socks, a cute dog who now works with Jake, is disturbed by her prior treatment. In her cage, she is squatting with her snout covering her mouth. The similarities between Jake and Socks are obvious. In a certain sense.

Jake’s pursuit of the shady figures is exciting, and Socks’ emotional opening to Jake is heartwarming. The best parts of “Muzzle” include scenes of Jake and Socks participating in K-9 training. Although “Turner & Hooch” and other movies have covered this terrain before, “Megan Leavey” is the best example of how this human-dog working partnership is portrayed in detail. “Megan Leavey” does what “Muzzle” tries to do admirably: it depicts the path of a cold and/or damaged human who must learn to open up in new ways in order to properly care for and teach their canine partner. When training a dog, you cannot be icy, cruel, or irritated. Before grabbing the dog leash, you need to address your problems. “Muzzle” aims to

All the issues in “Muzzle” are shown through the handling of a romantic relationship. Jake meets a strange woman (Penelope Mitchell) in his building’s laundry room. Jake is scowling and cranky, not to mention well-known because he was seen on camera attacking a first responder. He is so reserved that he comes out as cold. She knocks on his door later and offers to talk to him if he ever needs to, despite the fact that she is a nurse with a reportedly busy work. She is captivated by this thundercloud of a man. She exudes compassion and worry for this complete stranger who has already demonstrated his ability for being obnoxious and violent. It is absurd.

She appears at random, disappears from the action for a considerable amount of time (the film doesn’t even notice her absence), and then reappears at the conclusion. Nothing has been done to give her meaning or even a cause for being.

Even though the villains in “Muzzle” are cartoonish and one of them emerges from the shadows with flashy pants and dramatic makeup that resembles Ursa in “Superman,” the thriller part of the film does a little bit better.

Even while it’s clear that Socks and the nurse—who we almost ever see and who has no personality beyond “Let me be caring towards this scary-looking man”—are supposed to help Jake soften, his journey isn’t committed to in a meaningful way. The character in the film with the most personality is Socks. The only one who actually experiences growth and healing is she.

Digital platforms and current theatrical showings are both available.

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