Just a few days ago ‘Outside The Wire’ was released by Netflix as one of their first films of the New Year, the plotline takes on the scenario of a 2036 civil war between Russia and Ukraine over territory. US marines along with newly developed robotic soldiers known as ‘Gumps’ (Genius name right) are sent in as ‘peacekeepers’ and the film follows the journey of Lieutenant Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), a disgraced drone operator whom is punished for disobeying orders in his attempt to save troops. Sent into the field with no specialized training nor experience initially as a way to fully ‘Understand his work’ Harp quickly learns from his superior Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie) that there is a much more complex reason for his field call. Oh and did I mention Captain Leo is a one of a kind cyborg developed by the military under a developing program to institute types of ‘supersoldiers’ into the military, the catch is that they’re completely similar to humans in almost every way. The two quickly get moving and set out on a winding journey to ‘Save the World’.
As far as casting goes this film has been done very well, Anthony Mackie puts in a near perfect performance in his role as a difficult to understand, secret harboring yet frustratingly likeable cyborg/soldier and has some clever moments. Damsin Idris likewise does extremely well in his role as the ‘rookie’ thrown completely into the deep end but whom is slowly developing his moral compass and ability to act upon situations not just behind the screen. Supporting roles are done well also and there really isn’t much to complain about from a casting perspective.
Visually and effects wise, the film also stands up well, are there any completely mind blowing scenes no, but there are some nice shots particularly towards the end of the film along with various well put together gunfights across the nearly two hour runtime of ‘Outside the Wire’
However outside of casting and visuals ‘Outside the Wire’ begins to struggle. After watching the film and taking some time to consider, it’s hard not to say there was misplaced potential there, taking on some big ideas in the form of AI involvement in both military operation and general human life in the future along with the state of human conflict and the unfathomably destructive path that may be heading towards. Coupled with the constant questioning of morality as to what makes something right or wrong ‘Outside the Wire’ really did have some serious subject matter to make use of and to be completely honest it struggles to produce.
The violent sci-fi adventure decides to choose safety over potential and in doing so we are treated to almost every clique you could possibly muster through originality gold level lines such as “Sometimes you gotta get dirty to see the real change” along with a bomb countdown with big red numbers at the film’s climax (Which nobody has ever seen before). This doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘Outside the Wire’ is horrible or even difficult to watch but it is somewhat disappointing to be shown such a promising couple of ideas and then receive the same type of dystopian action we’ve seen over and over again.
The timeline of the film is good and the pacing isn’t bad, rarely leaving you feeling neither left behind or requiring things to speed up, however in some ways this also takes away from the film’s ability to tell a meaningful or truly thought provoking story. There are plenty of gunfights and fight scenes with a healthy amount of violence for the type of film this is attempting to be, however considering the fact that Captain Leo is basically a super-soldier it takes quite some time before we see any sort of real power out of him. It just seems that ‘Outside the Wire’ moves too quickly to even consider the weight of its own supposed ‘message’ and decides to place action and pace above all else and in doing so misses the mark.