“Outside the Wire” is the story of a hot-shot drone pilot who finds himself reprimanded to the front lines in order to learn the true cost of war. Paired with a top secret android officer, he must risk everything to stop a nuclear holocaust.
Pro – Harp
The best part of “Outside the Wire” is Lieutenant Harp, both the character and the actor. Harp is the driving force of the initial narrative and by far the most compelling part of the film. Harp, played by Damson Idris, is a drone pilot who sits in a comfy chair in American Desert eating gummy bears while controlling deadly US drones deployed around the world. After disobeying direct orders results in the death of two American soldiers, Harp is sent to the warzone to learn what war is like when one is up close and personal. This is a great set-up for what could be a compelling and timely story.
Instead, any gravitas is quickly jettisoned for a near-future sci-fi story about saving the world from nukes. This is unfortunate, as it quickly shifts from a movie that has something to say to one that only says things that have been said before in a much better way. Idris is also a great surprise for the film, making the scenes he’s in more enjoyable.
Con – Boring
“Outside the Wire” is a sci-fi action movie with great special effects. It has a bankable start in Anthony Mackie, and a serviceable supporting cast. It is unconscionable then that it’s such a boring movie. “Outside the Wire” isn’t an overly long movie, but it feels that way. The plot is so unrealistic and so cobbled together, it destroys any sense of immersion the movie may briefly cultivate. Motivations are murky, decisions are laughable, and it results a forgettable plot that can most generously be described as a mess. It seems to want to be something it’s not rather than being something it could. It’s hard to find much to like here, even when it’s blatantly ripping off great films like “Training Day.” Despite all that, it still has the gall to do some heavy-handed preaching to the audience.
Con – No world building
For all its convoluted plot lines, “Outside the Wire’s” biggest gaff is the total lack of world building. The opening scene features impressive looking US combat robots called Gumps. Anthony Mackie plays an Android. The Russians have their own robots, and war continues to rage over Ukraine. These are just presented as facts, and little to no care is given to dive into these elements. The real joy in science fiction and fantasy comes from the world building. The audience knows the hero will save the world, the only question in their mind is why is this a world I consider worth saving? “Outside the Wire” gives the audience none of that.
“Outside the Wire” is all flash and no substance. It looks great in a trailer, but it out stays its welcome quickly. The dialogue is corny, the story is disjointed and laughable, and the action simply is not good enough to carry such a burden. Save yourself the time and give this one a pass. It might worth checking out some of the new releases playing at the Fridley Palms Theater this weekend.