Swedish filmmaker Mikael Håfström takes the director’s chair of ‘Outside The Wire,’ a science fiction war drama that made its premiere on the Netflix streaming service.
In 2036, Eastern Europe is destabilized once again prompting a civil war in which both the Russians and the Americans have an interest, both sides using robots called Gumps. Lt. Thomas Harp (Damson Idris) is a drone pilot who disobeys a direct order and destroys a missile launcher, costing the lives of two American Marines. He is transferred to Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie), who reveals himself as an advanced android capable of mimicking human behavior. Leo informs Harp that they are looking for a terrorist named Victor Koval (Pilou Asbæk), who is seeking nuclear passcodes to a Cold War-era Russian base. After connecting to local resistance leader Sofiya (Emily Beecham) for intel, they head deeper into enemy territory “outside the wire” to find Koval despite enemies all around them and some within.
As far as acting, everyone does an excellent job. Anthony Mackie, of MCU fame, is excellent as Leo, going from a robot imitating humanity to a cold android focused on his mission. Likewise, Damon Idris did a good job as the lieutenant trying to figure out the conspiracies around him. Michael Kelly also had a smaller role as Col. Eckhart, their superior officer. He was good as usual.
The plot is pretty straightforward. It explores themes such as the futility of ongoing war and man versus machine. These two plot points worked with the action peppered in, keeping your interest in the story and engaging you on that human level. I do find those stories of machines and man working together fascinating depending on how the story works out. The filmmakers also did a good job with the cinematography, making you feel the intensity of the situations the characters find themselves in.
I also liked the fact that they avoided the whole “does the robot have a soul” debate with Anthony Mackie’s character. While it does touch on how Leo can imitate humans, it is made clear that it is an imitation. That was refreshing and I am glad that its actions were more about overzealous programming than on whether or not the thing is sentient.
Where I find the story fails is the lecturing. Filmmakers have always put messaging in their movies, sure, but I am not interested in hearing in getting lectured on America. The movie makes it clear its anti-American stance, blaming the devastation of the war on the USA. The only problem is, the movie admits that the war started prior to America’s involvement and that America came in to deliver aid when the United Nations abandoned the area. Not to mention, the resistance is being given supplies from America. Happy to lecture, but also take aid. That is called being a hypocrite. These filmmakers falling on these silly tropes is getting old. Find a new line. No nation is above criticism, but at least try to avoid being hypocritical about it.
Bottom line, Outside The Wire has a lot of winning qualities including the performance and the story but loses itself in lecturing the audiences through tiresome tropes from the early 2000s. Either way, the action is good and if you can get past that fault, you might enjoy it.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Strong foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: Humans can learn and do better. That is the greater good.
Check out the trailer below:
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