Movie Review: Outside the Wire

A new Netflix Original, Outside the Wire, introduces interesting concepts but fails to deliver a meaningful message.

February 5, 2021

2020 and the start of 2021 have been rough for movie-goers. From over 800 movies being released in 2019 to just over 300 in 2020, many movie releases have been pushed back in hopes that theatres will face less restrictions in 2021. Despite all of these COVID related difficulties, the Netflix machine has continued to churn out new shows and movies. Most recently, Netflix released Outside the Wire, a Sci-Fi action thriller that has left many disappointed. 

Directed by Mikael Håfström, Outside the Wire stars Anthony Mackie and Damson Idris. Set 15 years in the future, Europe is in turmoil. A civil war between Pro-Russian insurgents and the resistance has the U.S. in the middle trying to “keep the peace.” By this point, technology has advanced enough that, alongside humans, robotic soldiers called “Gumps” help with the fighting and are one of the best parts of the movie. 

Where the movie really goes into Sci-Fi is with Captain Leo. Leo is an advanced and experimental AI that is made to look like a human. This character is played by Anthony Mackie, and his chemistry with Damson Idris’ human character Harp is both believable, and works well. These two characters are tasked with preventing terrorist Victor Koval from gaining access to Cold War era Nuclear Missiles.

Going into this movie based off the action based trailer and synopsis, you wouldn’t think this movie would offer much thought provocation, but it presents some compelling ideas. Should the U.S. really be in between these foreign wars? Is America really helping, or are they only causing more problems? Unfortunately, Outside the Wire also comments on other social issues that don’t seem very relevant to the overarching story. On top of this, the ideas it introduces are hardly expanded upon. Instead of picking one of these wonderful concepts, the movie resorts to a generic action, and by the end, you can easily forget that it’s supposed to be set 15 years in the future. 

Although there are many issues, the actual acting in this movie is pretty solid. Anthony Mackie is best known for his roles in Marvel movies, and his acting ability was on full display here. He and Damson Idris are one of the few bright spots in the film. The supporting characters are fine, but none of them are very memorable. Not every character needs to have an extensive backstory, but Outside the Wire seems to jump from character to character without really giving viewers  an idea of what’s going on. At the end of the day, the actors do the best they can with a lackluster script. 

The special effects are nothing special here, but that’s not to say they’re bad, they’re just alright. When the CGI robots are a part of the fighting, they definitely don’t stand out negatively, but they don’t wow the viewer in any way either. The special effects are far from a dealbreaker, and are nowhere near the reason this movie has received such poor reviews. 

Overall, the main issue is the plot in this movie. A strong beginning set up the potential for a fantastic ending, but ultimately was not capitalized on, and many critics would agree. Outside the Wire received a 45% on Metacritic, a 5.4/10 on IMDB, a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 63% from Google users. Honestly, I’d say all these ratings are fair. In the beginning, it really seemed like this movie had something going for it, but the middle and end struggled to focus on what it wanted to be and its result was simply disappointing. 

Rating: D+

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