OUTSIDE THE WIRE (NETFLIX) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: When disgraced drone pilot, Lt. Harp (Damson Idris) is sent into a deadly militarized zone after disobeying orders, he finds himself working for Capt. Leo (Anthony Mackie), an android officer tasked with locating a doomsday device before insurgents do.
At one point in the movie, Anthony Mackie’s character, Leo shouted “I can do this all day!”. Probably just a prelude to his much anticipated upcoming Disney+ Marvel series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
But before that, Mackie is Captain Leo in Outside the Wire. Leo is no ordinary military soldier, he is an android, a futuristic robotic human-like soldier built by the US military. Assigned to a peacekeeping force in Eastern Europe where a civil war has broken out in the near future, Leo takes in a rookie Lieutenant Harp (Damson Idris) under his wing. Harp who has earlier disobeyed an order during his stint as a drone pilot is sent to the field by Leo despite not being an active field soldier.
His new mission according to Leo is to prevent a Russian terrorist, Viktor Koval from gaining control of some Cold War-era nuclear missiles. Their job is to collect intel and bring down Koval before he does more harm to the country.
The concept of employing AI to fight wars and conflicts have been explored in many other movies. Obviously it’s nothing new or unprecedented but instead of a totally CGI character, Outside the Wire has Anthony Mackie just liked Arnold in Terminator, Peter Weller in Robocop and Will Smith in the recent beleaguered Ang Lee’s Gemini Man. Most importantly of all, Mackie is a charismatic performer, always watchable and game to tackle any muddled material out there.
Outside the Wire keeps things moving fast while exploring the complex theme of AI and the moralities of war. The issue of Harp killing two marines to save 38 other lives are brought up repeatedly. Again, there’s too little to suggest anything of interest except to stir up Harp’s emotions towards war casualties. Every time, Leo and Harp wades into something worth discussing, they are interrupted by trigger happy villains because simply put, this isn’t a movie for it.
Keeping up with the aesthetic of Netflix’s other high-concept action movies liked 6 Underground and Extraction, Outside the Wire has enough riveting action pieces to keep audiences glued. There’s one particularly fun scene where Leo took out a variety of bad guys in a market android style. The movie is also filled with endless gunplay with photo realistic CGI robots dubbed Gump running around.
Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom who did 1408 and Escape Plan might not be the perfect filmmaker to pull off a movie that is equipped with both style and substance. But he is more than capable to deliver a sprawling bombastic action thriller. The concept while provocative, the entire narrative just comes across as underwhelming in the end. But as a slick, jam-packed action thriller, it more than suffices.
Review by Linus Tee