New to Netflix: ‘Outside the Wire’ Review
Netflix has pretty much become a permanent staple in my life since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. Being stuck at home has left me spending hours upon hours rifling through what seems like a massive, always changing collection, the best of which tends to be their original content. There are a ton of fantastic Netflix original shows worth binging and movies worthy of a good puff and watch, but as Netflix thrives, making more money than ever before, they’ve been able to greenlight a lot more projects giving users even more to choose from. But more options doesn’t exactly mean better content, and their latest addition, the sci-fi, action-adventure film ‘Outside the Wire‘, is absolutely a shoot and a miss, and easily one of the worse films I’ve seen in a long time.
A Brief Synopsis of Outside the Wire
‘Outside the Wire’, directed by Mikael Håfström, tells the story of a drone pilot named Thomas Harp (played by Damson Idris, who you may remember from the Black Mirror episode “Smithereens”) who disobeys a direct order from his superior during an operation. While his choice to fire a missile that he was told not to killed friendly U.S. soldiers on the ground, it also ended up saving the other 38 solders that were in harms way. He is not at all commended in his choice, despite it possibly being the best one, and instead is punished by being sent to Camp Nathaniel in the heart of Ukraine, which is going through a civil war, to gain experience on the ground instead of controlling a drone remotely. As he is thrust into his first experience in a warzone setting, he is assigned to work under the shit-talking, eccentric Captain Leo (played by Anthony Mackie, who also starred in a Black Mirror episode titled “Striking Vipers”) who quickly reveals that he is secretly an android super soldier.
From there, we follow the two soldiers, with Leo in command, as they make a trek ‘outside the wire’ – the wire being a tall fence surrounding and protecting Camp Nathanial from the worst that this futuristic hell-hole has to offer. Their mission is to put an end to some evil Russian mastermind hellbent on getting his hands on a bunch of Cold War-era nuclear war heads to destroy every major city in America.
Wait… What About the Sci-fi?
On paper, the plot actually sounds pretty ambitious, but you might be asking yourself “besides Leo being a super soldier android badass, where is the science fiction elements?” The answer is that there aren’t really much of any. Sure, because it is set in the future there are robot soldiers they call Gumps (which look eerily similar to the design of the robot from the movie Chappie) but besides making a few appearances throughout the film, their presence in the story isn’t at all explored.
As the story expands, we get to know more about Leo and his true intentions with bringing Harp along on the mission. The movie throws all kinds of plot twists at the viewer but does a poor job of either clearly explaining them or giving them some sort of conclusions. This ends up making the sci-fi elements seem unimportant, making one think that if they took them out of the movie and simply made this a straight action film, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference. It fails to create any real interest around the character being an advanced android
Cheesy Dialogue and Boring Action Scenes
For a lot of movies, cheesy dialogue can absolutely work, but in the case of Outside the Wire, it just doesn’t. This seems to be the fault of poor scriptwriting and possibly poor casting. While Mackie comes off as the seasoned actor that he his at this point, Idris’ character comes off as soulless and boring, and as an onscreen duo they fail at creating any sort of interesting chemistry. But even the best cast in the world couldn’t resurrect the lifeless and flat dialogue littered throughout the movie.
Most of the action scenes consist of boring fire fights. There are really only 2 scenes throughout the film that we get to see Leo showcase his “super soldier” capabilities, and even those aren’t shot well enough to carry the film. When we first learn that Leo is an android, it became easy to imagine him taking on a role similar to the Terminator – he comes off as such a badass, and every lower ranking character is filled with fear and a sense of respect in his presence. But the movie doesn’t give the viewer any reason to feel the same way.
My Biggest Gripe With Outside the Wire
An element that truly bothered my about this movie that I haven’t seen other reviewers talk much about is the general production and feel of the movie. There is something about literally every scene that looks and feels like it was shot in a movie studio of some kind. I noticed it during the open scene during the fire fight where Harp makes his defining decision to fire the missile, and since that moment I couldn’t un-see it. It made the overall film feel generic as hell, so much so that it kept me from truly being immersed in it.
For the first time ever, this is a film I would recommend skipping out on this one. There are a lot better ways you can spend the near 2 hour runtime, and more impressive efforts in the Netflix cannon. ‘Outside the Wire’ doesn’t even achieve being “so bad, it’s good”, and no amount of bomb ass weed will help make this experience and enjoyable one.