Noob Reviews: Outside the Wire
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is Outside the Wire?
Outside the Wire is one of the most recent Netflix originals to be released and sees us on the borders between Ukraine and surrounding pro-Russia countries, in a demilitarized zone established to keep the conflict between pro and anti-Russia groups spilling over and affecting civilians in the area.
Having disobeyed a direct order, costing two marines their lives. A desensitized drone pilot (Harp) has been sent to the peacekeeping forces to witness and participate in front line service to help him better understand what it is to be a soldier and be part of the team atmosphere it promotes. If he fails, he is dishonourably discharged from the military. If he succeeds, he gets to go back to his old post.
Luckily for Harp, he has been assigned to Captain Leo, an advanced android military officer on the hunt for a pro-Russia terrorist leader named Victor Koval. Who seeks to invade Ukraine and take possession of multiple nuclear missile silos and their payloads - nuclear payloads that were left hidden by the Russian forces when Ukraine became independent, and they were forced out.
Little does Harp know though, that as he and Leo work their way through the uncertain world of arms dealers, revolutionaries and resistance fighters. The biggest threat to himself and the country he loves may not be caused by an external threat, but someone closer to home.
What type of genre is the film?
Outside the Wire is primarily a science fiction film with heavy action-adventure elements and a dash of political and social undertones.
When was Outside the Wire released?
Outside the Wire was released a few weeks ago on the 15th January (2021).
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- The official trailer linked from Netflix’s YouTube channel -
Alternatively, you can also find Outside the Wire on Netflix here.
Who are some of the actors and actresses that we might know?
Anthony Mackie (Captain Leo)
Damson Idris (Lieutenant Thomas Harp)
Michael Kelly (Colonel Eckhart)
Pilou Asbæk (Victor Koval)
For a full cast listing, please see the official IMDB page here.
What did you think of Outside the Wire?
Unlike so many of the recent originals released on Netflix, Outside the Wire had a trailer that didn’t really sit right with me. It had the action-packed sequences. It had the introduction of Gumps - robotic soldiers deployed to help service personnel. But it lacked any kind of depth or exciting story. Unfortunately, this was setting the baseline for a film that, in my opinion, was absolutely abysmal. It is one of the worst originals to be released to date and was indifferent with how it played out, I would go as far as saying it is substandard to even be classed as a film. At best it was a made for TV mini-series.
When it comes to the story for Outside the Wire, the long and short of it is that a pro-Russia terrorist would like to get his hands on nuclear missiles and attack America as a demonstration of power. The resistance fighters would like to do the same, to show the Americans the meaning of collateral damage. And huge spoilers, factions within the American military forces want to do the same but to show their fellow Americans weapons of mass destruction need to stop being made. The stories are all very similar, with tiny differences between them and each unfolds in very predictable and generic ways. Although there have been elements of social and political awareness added into the film. Such as the impact war has on the civilians and non-combatants. These are handled in such a preachy way where America has injected itself as the peacekeeping force to assist the UN and bring stability to the region. Things like this bug and bore me equally. Over the years it’s become almost like a saviour complex appearing in many American made films or films about the American military.
With regards to the acting, although they only have minimal screen time. I have to admit that Pilou Asbæk (who plays Koval), Emily Beecham (who plays the resistance leader Sofiya) and Michael Kelly (who plays Eckhart) all did an excellent job of balancing their characters for the most part. On the other hand, Damson Idris (who plays Harp) starts out as a very arrogant character, who starts to become likeable and relatable, and then ruins it towards the end of the film - so he has his ups and downs, but they are mainly downs. And when it comes to Anthony Mackie, I guess they were lucky he showed up. Mackie has a very condescending way about him, especially in the way that he speaks to people. Whether it be an artistic choice or scripted, his character feels the need to swear every other sentence to make him look more of an alpha male, and he appears to have one facial expression for the entire film. He’s bland, dull and forgettable.
Effect wise, I have to admit that the film does have some fantastic fight sequences, gunfights, and the introduction to the Grumps is well done. The way they are animated and worked into the film is seamless, and it really looks as if they are meant to be there as opposed to superimposed in. Some explosions in a few of the scenes look like they have been taken from a Call of Duty gunship or 90s action film. However, they are still pretty decent. It is just a shame they are few and far between, and there was no consistency with the quality that went into the effects, in other areas of the film.
Overall I thought Outside the Wire was a generic film barely making itself stand out as a science fiction or action-adventure entry. Both the script and story are unimaginative and uninspired. And the acting needed a serious nudge up in quality from the two lead characters, who had the most screen time. Supporting actors did a good job bringing the film up a few notches when I worked out the ratings, but unfortunately, they had minimal screen time, and it wasn’t enough overall to make it an enjoyable watch. The way I came away from the film was with the thought, that’s two hours of my life I’m never getting back.
What rating would you give Outside the Wire?
I would rate Outside the Wire as a weak 2.2 out of 5 bananas.
Outside the Wire is deficient in decent action and sci-fi material, with a story that has been played out (and handled a lot better) in many other films. It’s two lead characters also fail to capture any real sense of investment or dare I say interest, which really fails to perform any sense of immersion or believable world-building throughout the film. I really wanted this to be a decent film, but in the end, it is more of a light watch where everything about it will be forgotten by the next day.
If you are in the mood for a good film or two with similar themes, might I suggest the 1996 film Broken Arrow, the 1997 film The Peacemaker or the 2015 film Chappie. All of which, although not perfect, stand tall and proud over the mess that is Outside the Wire.
Thank you very much for checking out the review. If you are interested in Outside the Wire and would like to check it out yourself, to form your own opinion - you can find it on Netflix here.