Why do you love a dog? Is it because you are a lonely person, or is it because it listens to you? John Stalberg Jr., in his film Muzzle, shares a different side of the story of the relationship between a man and a dog. What exactly is a muzzle? It is the open end of a firearm from which the bullet is released. This film is all about releasing anger and letting go of grief. How much pain does a man experience when his dog dies? Let’s explore it. Spoilers Ahead!
Muzzle (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The film starts with Jake Rosser, one of the K9 officers from LAPD, patrolling with his most trusted friend, Ace, a German Shepherd who is trained to find cocaine and detect other suspicious activities in the locality. Ace listens to whatever Jake says and would do anything to protect him. One day, when the headquarters report a disturbance, and Jake and Ace reach the spot. They find a stolen vehicle in the locality, and another inspector tells Jake that the suspect has run away. Jake then returns to his vehicle, unchains Ace, and Ace detects cocaine inside the trunk of the car. The officers open the trunk and find the cocaine. Later, Officer Hernandez talks to his informant on the street, Dante, and learns that the suspect has fled.
What Happens to Ace?
Jake starts looking for the suspect or any clue on the street. Ace finds something suspicious near a tent, and Jake calls out to the person inside. Suddenly, shots are fired from inside the tent, leaving an officer injured. At the same time, another police officer touches a packet of cocaine, activating a bomb. The car explodes, and only Jake is now able to chase the suspect. Jake runs along with Ace and goes inside an under-construction building. Ace finds a man lying there. But Jake sees that the suspect has given his jacket to the person, confusing Ace. The suspect even commands Ace in German to stand down, the same way the police are trained to do.
Right after that, a gunfight takes place between Jake and the suspect, resulting in the death of the suspect. But in the middle of the shooting, Ace is severely injured. Jake returns to the place where it all started and asks the medic to take care of Ace. The medic says injured people will be cared for first, and dogs will come after that. Jake places Ace’s injured body on the ground and smashes the medic’s face with a fierce header. Ace dies, and Jake shares his final words at his funeral. Jake is now sure of one thing: this grief will not leave him anytime soon. Ace has been a part and parcel of his life, and now he is gone. Jake is all alone now.
Does Jake replace Ace with a new Dog?
As time progresses, Jake finds it harder to live without Ace. He is interrogated about the events of that day on the street. The vibe of the room sounds like they are already pointing fingers at Jake for being naive and reckless at the scene. Jake wants to see the autopsy report of Ace. However, he is denied the opportunity and told to do whatever he is asked. Jake wishes to quit his job and leaves the room.
He meets with one of his colleagues, Ramos, and asks her to find out who killed Ace. Jake repeatedly tells his superiors about the suspect commanding Ace in German, just like the police officers. Later, we meet Leland, the dog trainer of the K9 division. He tells Jake to take a new dog home, as the more time he spends alone, the more grief he will experience. Jake sees a dog in the cage who has a traumatic past; he finds some connection in her eyes and leaves.
Ramos comes with some information about Ace’s death. Jake learns about the drug fentanyl and realizes that to get to the hub of the drug cycle, he must investigate this drug. As of now, Jake is suspended from duty and is asked to visit a therapist due to his recent loss. Ramos suggests to him that whatever he is about to do, make sure he doesn’t do it without his squad.
She knows how dangerous these cartel people can be and warns Jake about this. Jake is in a lot of pain after losing Ace. He wants to seek revenge on the persons involved in killing Ace. When his own colleagues treat it as just a dog killed during an operation, Jake suggests putting up a case of homicide. The following day, Jake again visits Leland and asks him if he is ready to take the dog he had seen earlier.
Her name is Socks, and it seems like she is in great trauma at first glance. Jake brings her home and offers her food, but she doesn’t eat. However, she eats the food Jake eats. As time progresses, Jake understands that he needs to be more alive so that he can get the pass from the therapist that will help him get back into the squad. All he cares about right now is doing well in the therapeutic sessions and, once he is back in the squad, solving the mystery of Ace’s murder.
How Socks help Jake to Track Down the Main Culprit?
By this time, Jake had started dating a girl named Mia and show no signs of depression. So, the therapist finds no reason whatsoever not to give him the pass and allow him back into the police squad. Jake’s objectives are being completed as he is once again allowed to enter the squad and has access to his vehicle. Training Socks is very challenging, as she doesn’t respond to most of Jake’s commands. She has a titanium tooth, which suggests that she needs extra care due to a traumatic experience with her previous owner. One day, while Jake is trying to train Socks, she ignores all commands. Leland suggests to Jake that perhaps it’s not the commands that will inspire her to follow her master.
Jake doesn’t understand much of it; however, the next time, while giving the commands, Jake unintentionally snaps his fingers, and Socks suddenly completes the entire drill in no time. Jake finally finds a way to get inside Socks’ heart. On a previous occasion, Jake found a bottle of drugs with a specific sign on it. He goes to Hernandez’s informant, Dante, asking questions about that sign.
Dante remembers Socks from somewhere, which intrigues Jake. Subsequently, Dante tells him about a house in a very posh area with a gate with the same sign on it. After rejoining the police squad, Jake goes to inquire about the house. He confronts a dog and its owner inside the house. The man, just like the suspect who killed Ace, commands his dog in German. Jake and Socks are successful in killing the man and the other dog, but things start to get interesting from here on.
Ramos tells Jake about the registration of the car found at the scene. It was registered under the name of Xiang Xi. He had reported it as a stolen car, but Jake later finds a connection thanks to Socks. While Jake is researching the cartel, Socks sits beside him and makes some noise. Jake initially thinks that she either needs to go to the bathroom or she is hungry.
However, her sounds change when she sees the drug bottle that Jake is holding. Jake searches for information about the company that manufactures the bottle. He finds out that the company is owned by Xiang Xi, a Chinese medicine manufacturer who is selling drugs in these parts of Los Angeles. Little by little, Jake understands the entire racket, and now he goes to a building only to find out that fentanyl is being produced there.
How does Jake lose Socks?
When Jake enters the building along with Socks, the person making the drugs tells Jake that he also knows Socks. Jake is confused, and right at that moment, the person pushes him, and some fentanyl enters his bloodstream through his nose. Jake later finds out that other people have surrounded him, and they take Socks to a woman. Tragically, without any clue, Jake sees that Socks obeys the woman without any resistance. The woman asks Jake to join their side because that is his only option. Jake finds it very hard to stay awake; the following day, he finds himself on the street. He is clueless about the previous night, Socks, and everything that happened so quickly. He takes his time to find his bearings and navigate in the right direction.
Muzzle (2023) Movie Ending Explained:
Can Jake Save Socks?
Jake goes to meet the original owner of Socks, Santiago. Santiago used to be a police officer, but luck has planned a different path for him. When his daughter falls ill, Santiago is unable to manage the cost of her treatment with his low income. So, he turns to the cartel, seeking help to save his daughter. He begins sending the K9 dogs to the cartels, and they start drugging them. These drugs prevent the dogs from detecting cocaine in the garbage, making it difficult for the police to catch the drugs and allowing the cartel’s business to continue. One day, they take Socks from him, and given Santiago’s circumstances, he is unable to rescue Socks from their clutches. Jake now understands why Socks fears the bottle and is determined to save his dog and put an end to the cartel once and for all.
His colleague Hernandez accompanies him, holding a sniper rifle from a vantage point. Jake enters the heart of the cartel with a shotgun and eliminates almost every member. He is now faced with a one-on-one confrontation with the woman. Jake commands Socks to come to him, but she refuses to leave the woman’s side. Two other German Shepherds arrive at the scene, glaring fiercely at Jake.
Jake is left with no option but to surrender to the woman. However, before doing so, he asks the woman for the German translation of ‘suicide.’ She provides the answer, and Jake snaps his fingers at that moment. Jake remembers that Socks doesn’t respond to commands but to a specific gesture. Socks bites the woman’s throat, and while the other two dogs also attack her, she shoots one of the dogs.
At the end of the film, we see Jake as a happily married man with a child to care for. He is married to Mia, who is walking on the street with Socks. We notice that Socks has lost one of her right front legs, indicating that the woman’s bullet had injured Socks that day. Nevertheless, Jake and Mia have taken good care of her, and she has found a loving family. Socks is recovering from all the traumas of the past, as evidenced by her alleged smiling while walking beside Mia.