Released: 15th January
Seen: 17th January
This year Netflix announced that it plans on releasing one brand new narrative film every single week, a proposal clearly borne out of a need to build up a catalogue of films that can’t be taken away when another movie studio decides to try and make its own streaming service. On the one hand, this is a smart idea, with enough of a catalogue of its own Netflix can justify continuing as a service even if every studio pulls their film.
On the downside, they are now greenlighting just about everything and not worrying too much about quality over quantity. Sure, some of these films will inevitably be great just by the law of averages but chances are good that most of them are going to be like Outside the Wire… a forgettable bland film with incredible star power to get it some initial attention before it winds up being another film that gets scrolled past in the search for something to watch.
Outside the Wire is your standard futuristic war film, set in 2036 (and looking suspiciously like 1999) the film takes place during a civil war in the Ukraine that obviously needs America to intervene in. Drone pilot Harp (Damson Idris) is in a spot of trouble because he may have disobeyed a direct order and fired a drone at an enemy in a way that also caused the deaths of 2 soldiers. Instead of being kicked out of the army, like would happen in reality just for disobeying an order, Harp is told to join Officer Leo (Anthony Mackie) and learn what it’s like to be on the ground. Soon Harp learns that Leo is an android, because futurism, and the rest of the film asks ‘heavy’ questions about humanity, war and what constitutes a film worth your time.
With visuals that look identical to those old SyFy Originals that were always a good laugh a few decades ago and a colour palette that I’m sure Lumiere would tell us was delicious (because it’s mostly grey stuff), Outside the Wire feels at least a decade out of date… which is impressive since it’s set 15 years in the future. Everything about it just feels old, from the cheap-looking sets to the CGI to the basic plotline. Now, there’s nothing wrong with looking like a film from 2011 in theory (indeed, reminding me of the before times might be the most positive thing I can say about this film) but it doesn’t feel intentional.
The one bright spot in Outside the Wire is Anthony Mackie, who has enough charm and personality to make just about anything work. Sure, it’s a bit weird that the android character is the one with the most captivating personality in the entire film but at least he was a character that was worth watching. At least he had a few funny lines and a few cool action scenes, that’s more than I can say about… oh god, I can’t even remember the main characters name and I wrote it 2 paragraphs ago. That’s how bland he is, our lead character is a blank space that is only going on this quest because he disobeyed orders and caused 2 deaths… and once he does that, he stops mattering.
Honestly, there isn’t much to say about Outside the Wire. It has one good performance and everything else is so bland that I was forgetting the film as I watched it. There is nothing here to recommend, nothing that demands you see it, it’s background noise that you put on to have something in the background while you’re making a cake.
And now, with the writing of this sentence, I have completely forgotten every single thing about this film. What was its name again?