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Feb
2021
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Outside The Wire

Outside The Wire

It’s 2036 and eastern Europe has erupted into war. Sent in as peacekeepers, US forces are regularly drawn into the fighting and from the air but drone pilot Lt. Harp (as played by Damson Idris) can make the difference between life and death. However, when he disobeys a direct order and engages a concealed missile launcher, there are some dire consequences. Even with only two marines killed and 38 saved, this is still enough for him to be court-martialled. Yet instead of being convicted, he is sent to the front line. Ordered to report to the mysterious Captain Leo as played Anthony Mackie, it pretty much feels like a death sentence wrapped in a deployment order but once he gets there, he discovers that nothing is what it seems in the world of Captain Leo…

Much of Outside The Wire's inventiveness is firmly posted back to barracks when its subject matter is screaming out to fly off in more realistic directions...

With insurgent warfare reduced to a computer game, Outside The Wire depicts this future warzone as being Call of Duty made real. Opening with a rain-splattered and bullet-strewn stand-off which pretty much resembles an advert for General Dynamics, robot soldiers now get their boots on the ground. Yet high above in the sky, cool and dispassionate Damson Idris is playing a different game. Divorced from the fallout that his actions inflict, director Mikael Håfström uses his character to question the nature of accountability. Whereas in previous wars there was never enough information available, in the battlefield of the future its seems every check can be balanced before even a trigger is even pulled.

You see, in blending the visuals of Neil Blomkamp’s District 9 and the marine yelling-chaos of Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Downthe more natural touchstone for Outside The Wire is Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow. Keen to ask as many questions as Liman’s movie, there’s no certainly no shortage of ambition in the themes it wants to tackle. -Should a robot ever be in command? Would you seriously follow its orders or would you question its programming? In this respect Anthony Mackie’s Capt. Leo is an indifferent kitten pulling at the strands of how wars have been fought before. By thinking beyond the remit of his orders, he puts both himself and his charge on edge much akin to David Ayer’s Training Day and Mackie is having a ball as Harp’s tormentor in chief.

That said, seemingly shot and produced in much the same way as Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction, all of the violence feels a bit safe. Shorn of any real-life moments of consequence, much of Harp and Leo’s heroic intentions can end up feeling just like that – intentional. This is because the movie’s clear remit is entertainment first and moral dilemmas second. 

As a result, much of Outside The Wire‘s inventiveness is firmly posted back to barracks when its subject matter is screaming out to fly off in more realistic directions. As already mentioned Anthony Mackie is having a great time and whereas Damson Idris‘s Harp needed to be much more conflicted, they are both ably supported by Michael Kelly who easily usurped the main cast in Netflix’s House of Cards. In a decent sci-fi combat movie that could ave easily benefitted from another half hour (and normally I’m saying the opposite of that), you’ll still find a lot to enjoy in Outside The Wire even though you might be mildly disappointed by its lack of narrative conviction.  

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