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Outside the Wire - Netflix film review


Directed by #MikaelHåfström


When drone pilot lieutenant Harp (Damson Idris) disobeys orders and gets deployed to the front lines of war, he finds himself working with android Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie), to prevent a nuclear attack. Set in 2036, this film aims to be an introspective look at what the near future could become in another universe, where cyborgs are more prevalent and the world is about to implode itself. The result of this near-two hour film, however, is like a disappointing and overly sadistic video game.

Main characters Captain Leo (left) and Lt. Harp (right) stand with guns in a grey, futuristic  war zone.
Outside the Wire - Netflix poster

From the offset, the audience is thrown into the middle of an almost post-apocalyptic war waged by the Americans. It you had to name a positive aspect of the production of this film, it would be the camerawork. There are some effective following shots that follow key characters in warfare scenes, along with high and low gunfire that creates layers within the action, creating the aesthetics to a tense atmosphere. Contained within this is, though, is every action film cliché that comes to mind: gore, guns and excessive swearing, all to create a cocktail of American patriotism that targets Eastern Europe. You would think that films would have grown out of this hero mentality by now. Suffice to say, the film's fast pace combined with a futuristic storyline makes it feel like a simulation. It feels like a cyberpunk impression of what the near future could become, but the film uncomfortably wrestles with these themes and produces a mediocre result.

Unfortunately, the script is basic and feels generic with obvious dialogue that clumsily constructs each scene. In most scenes, the acting is patchy, with both Idris and Mackie ultimately carrying the script as much as they can. Particularly at the start and end of the film, the extra characters have sloppy characterisations and body language. The stereotypes continue with the male ego and 'fall-in-line' authority which do become boring after a short while into the film. Likewise, what limited representation there is of women is outdated and unnecessary. Either they have few lines, or men talk about them in a sexualised way - great...

It is sad that this film falls flat, as it had the potential to be a game-changer. In particular, the theories and concepts behind the script could have been really thought-provoking. The war zone and talk of illness and vaccines feels somewhat current at the start of 2021 and this definitely could have been executed better. Likewise, the character of Leo as a cyborg of sorts, could have tapped into ideas on the body as machine and human anxieties surrounding autonomy and what technology could become in the near future. What is discussed briefly is the subjectivity of pain within the context of being a robot, but this really misses the mark. These groundbreaking and relatively new film philosophies could have been approached so much more explicitly in this film and the fact that they weren't was just disappointing.

All of this combined leaves the storyline and the purpose of the plot feeling vague. The result of Outside the Wire is just a lot of needless aggression, violence, death and repetitive dialogue. After about half an hour, it becomes boring because the action stays at the same level throughout, allowing for no variety in scene speed or intensity. This means that the film drags on for too long and ultimately results in confusion.

If you like predictable war films with an under-layer of robots, then this is probably the film for you. Otherwise, this is not worth the watch.


Watch the trailer for Outside the Wire here:



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