‘Muzzle’ Gives K9 Cops Their Due

Aaron Eckhart shines in sobering look at L.A. crime and the officers who fight it

We don’t deserve dogs.

The main character in “Muzzle” knows that better than anyone. Aaron Eckhart’s broken cop will do anything to avenge his canine partner in the grand John Wick tradition.

Except this isn’t a gruesome shoot ’em up but a slow-burn character study told with confidence and style. Some flaws nag at us, like a villain who screams for more screen time. It’s still a welcome addition to the cop genre, made richer by Eckhart’s dialed-in performance.

Muzzle Official Trailer | HD | RLJE Films | Ft. Aaron Eckhart, Stephen Lang

Officer Jake Rosser (Eckhart) opens up to no one but his partner, K9’s own Ace. Jake and Ace pitch in on what appears to be a routine stop that quickly spirals out of control.

A car explodes. A fellow cop is injured. And, when the smoke settles, poor Ace has made the ultimate sacrifice.

Jake is crushed, so much so that he takes out his rage on an EMT. Guess what part of the tragedy goes viral?

His fellow officers have little interest in finding out exactly how Ace died or who pulled the trigger. So he pushes forward on his own, enraging his by-the-book commander (Nick Searcy) and reminding everyone his PTSD has never been resolved.

He reluctantly adopts a new K9 officer, Socks, with a troubled past. Socks isn’t keen on learning the ropes, though, and Jake’s attempts to learn the truth behind Ace’s death get him deeper in trouble. 

“Muzzle” pays tribute to our canine heroes, but the story reaches beyond our furry friends. Loyalty, betrayal and the thin line between being a good cop and having your career implode in a flash bleed into the frame.

Director John Stalberg, Jr. captures the oozing rot of Jake’s Los Angeles beat, an approach that doubles as a sobering op-ed. Tent cities abound, and the homeless subculture is key to fighting crime in the City of Angels.

Sadly, those visuals no longer shock us.

Stalberg’s camera finds fresh ways to approach the cop genre, but it also spends time on Eckhart’s tightly framed mug. Jake wears his pain for all to see, and his ties to his neighbor and love interest (Penelope Mitchell) offer clues to his tortured soul.

Eckhart, an underrated actor, fills in the rest with every measured scowl.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by John Stalberg, Jr. (@johnstalbergjr)

“Muzzle” shares the inner workings of a standard K9 unit down to the way their fellow officers pay their respects to fallen dogs. That sets it apart from recent cop films, and none of it is given a Hollywood gloss.

We’d love to see more of Searcy, but the same holds true for Stephen Lang’s modest role as a K9 trainer. Eckhart’s scenes with Lang hint at a depth the film sets aside for the criminal conspiracy in play.

“Muzzle’s” screenplay is blunt and genre friendly, but just when you think it’s bound to serve up something cliched it turns in a fresh direction. We’re also spared pat scenes of Jake and Socks bonding.

Grit is the order of the day, and “Muzzle” more than delivers on that front.

HiT or Miss: “Muzzle” is a sharp, involving cop drama powered by Man’s Best Friend and an impressive turn by Aaron Eckhart.


  1. Ray,

    Eckhart really brought his “A” game to “Battle: Los Angeles” and is a big reason I enjoyed that underrated alien invasion film.

  2. MUZZLE is one of the best films American right wing filmmaking delivered this season. If Pauline Kael was still active e.g. if we happened to be in the seventies – MUZZLE would most certainly be a Clint Eastwood vehicle and provoke a rant from Kael.

    It’s a powerful statement of how weakened America is, with Chinese opioids pouring in via Mexican cartels, middle class in shambles, homeless people all over the place and police force under pressure from liberal media and poorly assembled from PTSD-stricken war veterans who have trouble coping with past, current and upcoming traumas.

    MUZZLE is showing that contemporary America is a tragedy waiting to happen and yet again it showcases a hero whose character leads him from being only able to genuinely to communicate to dogs e.g. beings who are unable to give him a complex response to a person who reconnects with people in the best way possible and ends up with a real, human family.

    It’s a about a man rediscovering humanity with the help of a dog. But in this film the dog also has trauma and a character arc which makes this a unique film.

    Even though Eubank and Stalberg base their work on spare parts from films ranging from TURNER & HOOCH and K-9 to DOG and MEGAN LEAVEY, they assemble them in a fresh way and make the film that genuinely works. It doesn’t merely “work”, it’s fresh both the relationshi between the top human and the top dog, but it’s also intriguing as a thriller and powerful as a political statement.

    Dallas Sonnier again pulls his unique trick – he takes a director that got all of us used to some mediocre work and get them to deliver a pretty great film. I hope this film was a learning experience for Stalbarg because after this film I expect a lot more from him than before when I was just familiar to HIGH SCHOOL and CRYPTO.

    It’a film everyone involved should be really proud of.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button