In Brief: Dystopian Europe a mere 15-years from now. Not looking pretty. But neither is Outside the Wire which doesn’t move much outside the cyborg movie box.
As you know, computers are growing ever smarter. Most can diagnose and repair themselves when something is amiss. So it’s not much of a stretch to assume that sometime in the very near future artificial intelligence will improve to the point where it starts looking and acting like people.
In the case of Outside the Wire, that date is 2036.
A mere 15-years? That date is a bit of a stretch but so is most sci-fi involving such entities. In this case, 2036 has civil war broken out in Eastern Europe. It is centered in Ukraine and U.S. forces are there as peacekeepers.
Robots called gumps do a lot of the fighting.
Damson Idris (TV’s Snowfall) is Lieutenant Thomas Harp. He’s a drone operator who screws up so badly that he gets assigned to the war front. There he is put under the authority of Captain Leo. He heads intelligence for a unit. No one knows that Leo is also an artificial life form.
Like most machines in this kind of movie, Leo is brilliant. He’s also a cyborg with blitz-lightening reflexes and almost super-powered strength.
Leo is convinced that a dangerous war lord is looking at grabbing nuclear weapons housed in former Soviet Union silos. He wants Harp to help him stop what could turn into global nuclear war.
After his drone mishap, Harp was specifically picked by Leo for the assignment. That has Harp scratching his head. He also never quite trusts the machine’s decision making.
Anthony Mackie (Falcon in the Marvel movies) stars as Leo. He’s quite good in the role as is Idris in his. The movie — however — lets both of them down.
Director Mikael Hafstrom would have done his movie — and his actors — a real service by trimming a few scenes. Hafstrom (the Stallone/Schwarzenegger flick Escape Plan and the 2008 Steven King horror film 1408) lets his movie run almost two hours. It drags in places and has characters and incidents that add very little to the story.
This isn’t to say that Outside the Wire is awful. It has moments where it’s entertaining and the effects aren’t bad. Unfortunately, it has much in common with other, better cyborg movies. The movie also looks a lot like peacekeeping war movies that were also done much, much better.
Like most sci-fi fans, I wanted to like Outside the Wire. This is one of those subjects that fascinates because we can imagine things like this really happening in the near future. We can all envision a world where these creatures exist. That’s not hard to do. From that standpoint, the concept is believable.
Where films like Outside the Wire fail is giving their characters multiple dimensions. One of those critical dimensions is a sense of humor. Science fiction — like horror — just seems to work better and become much more real to us when a few laughs are inserted. The movie could also — as I noted earlier in my headline — not only be outside the wire, but plot-wise it needed to think more outside the box.
Director: Mikael Hafstrom
Stars: Anthony Mackie, Damson Idris, Rowan Athale, Rob Yescombe, Michael Kelly, Emily Beecham, Pilou Asbae
Rated R for violence, mature themes and language. Outside the Wire is fairly predictable and not all that original. It’s not awful but coulda been soooo much better. Give it a Friday Flicks with Gary 2 1/2 on the 0 to 5 scale.
You can stream Outside the Wire on Netflix.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.