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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

This is a job for Superman Wonder Woman.

Mute Witness (1995) on IMDb

Plot Overview

FX/make-up artist mute Billy Hughes (Marina Sudina) uses her sister Karen Hughes (Fay Ripley) to translate American sign language (ASL) to the Russian translator Natasha who in turn relays it to a Russian actress in Russian. Karen's boy­friend clumsy director Andy Clarke (Evan Richards) has shot too many retakes to keep to their schedule, so they call it a wrap for the day and he goes home to cook dinner. He ruins dinner, he's slow to learn ASL, and as a protector he makes a good hostage. What does his girl­friend see in him? Oh, his father the ambassador knows a lot of important people. Their movie is bringing an influx of money into Moscow, as well.

Assistant cameraman Lyosha Hausmann (Sergei Karlenkov) stays late with light engineer Arkadi (Igor Volkov) to do a test with a drop-in actress to get the blood right. Billy having inadvertently gotten her­self locked in the ware­house studio witnesses what she perceives to be a real murder. Since the actress has disappeared the police don't know what to think. Further complicating matters the actress had on her person a diskette that would incriminate the mob in a snuff film enter­prise. The mob wants the diskette back and they think Billy has it. They want Billy the witness dead.

After an inordinate amount of action, undercover detective Alexander Larsen (Oleg Yankovskiy), who seems too good to be true, offers to explain the rather convoluted plot to a stunned Karen. I really wanted to hear his explanation, but Karen would none of it, being unwilling to accept any explanation that resulted in her loved one being killed.


Billy has a speaking assist phone in her apartment. She can type in her words and it will speak them for her. There's also a list of pre-programmed sentences she can scroll through. Hey, be prepared. One never knows when she'll have to, say, contact the police about an intruder. Have some useful sayings in reserve, à la (Eccl. 11:1) “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Does the Russian operator know the English word, intruder?

(Eccl. 11:2) “Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.” The actress victim in the slasher film is instructed to give it “more.” She is to bleed profusely, i.e. “give a portion to seven,” and she is to express pain, i.e. “and also to eight.” One never knows how important it will be to convince an audience.

(Eccl. 11:3) “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” When Billy is hiding in the elevator shaft, holding the emergency door key in her teeth, clutching on for dear life, it is inevitable she drop the key. She just has too much to attend to. The police needing to confirm the story impound the reel of film to see if it is an actual snuff film or just a test film. What gets developed is what it is.

applying makeup(Eccl. 11:4) “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” A housewife is so intent on examining the lipstick she's applying that she neglects her wifely duties, be it just to tune the radio to her hubby's preferred station, who is about to get home. The movie crew is similarly disengaged: either smoking a cigarette, or snorting some vodka, ribbing each other, or eyeing the women. The actress for her part exceeds her victim status by playing it too large as if she's a star in a Chekhov play. It's no wonder they're falling behind on their production schedule.

(Ecclesiastes 11:5) “As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.” There's a lot we just don't know. Who plays “the Reaper” in a guest appearance? What is the secret identity of (Russian) Superman? What happened to the actress' body? And what were the news stories from around the world, which the husband tuned across on a multi-band radio trying to find his station? It is enough if we can even figure out this story before us; trying to under­stand all the world news would be overly ambitious.

Production Values

” (1995) was written and directed by Anthony Waller. It stars Marina Zudina, Fay Ripley, and Evan Richards. Zudina is easy on the eyes but hard on the nerves as she fends off danger. Ripley and Richards form a comedic duo that breaks the tension. The Russian acting leaves a lot to be desired, but a guest star appearance—you'll recognize him—elevates the cast.

MPAA rated it R for violence and a strong scene combining sex and violence. The emphasis is on action over story. It's every bit a thriller without delving into horror. The first half was flaw­less, but the latter half was awfully cluttered with murderous characters. With so much arrayed against her, it seems that Billy's death will be inevitable, but it will be an honor to her profession.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

If you like action, this one will take the cake. The mute girl evokes sympathy as she's being pursued. The plot isn't all that complicated, it just gets stuffed with characters. Lots of surprises. The one recognizable face anchors the story rather than run away with it. This one is good for thrills.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Special effects: Well done special effects. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.