Outside the Wire Image

Outside the Wire

By Josiah Teal | January 18, 2021

NOW ON NETFLIX! Outside The Wire begins in the year 2036, as Eastern Europe is engaged in a civil war. Criminal warlord Viktor Kaval (Philo Asbaek), who is threatening a nuclear holocaust, begins to stockpile weapons for an all-out assault. In the wake of the turmoil, it’s up to a young drone pilot, Lt. Harp (Damson Idris), and his commanding officer, Cpt. Leo (Anthony Mackie), to save the world. This cybernetic sci-fi feature mixes military action with wartime morality.

After a successful mission that cost the lives of two Marines, both of whom Harp considers collateral damage, he’s sent to the frontlines in an attempt to see the action beyond his screen. Despite being an android, Leo seeks to teach Harp humanity within warfare as the two attempt to track down Kaval and stop nuclear annihilation. Facing local hit-squads and Kaval’s own soldiers, the pair question humankind’s ethics between blasts of bullet-ridden action.  

Outside the Wire uses the classic and familiar buddy-cop formula. A rookie officer works alongside a seasoned veteran who shows him the ropes and tries to break his “by the book” nature, ultimately finding out a mix of the two styles works for the best. Outside the Wire does add a unique setting to the mix. The dystopian future and sci-fi elements add some great moments that genuinely lead to more moral discussions than the typical buddy-cop or military action film. In addition to ethical dilemmas, the Netflix movie boasts some fun action sequences and shootouts worthy of a summer shoot em’ up.

OUTSIDE THE WIRE, ​Anthony Mackie ​as ​Leo, Damson Idris as Harp, in OUTSIDE THE WIRE. Cr. ​Jonathan Prime​/NETFLIX ​© ​2020

“…it’s up to a young drone pilot…and his commanding officer…to save the world.”

Despite the creativity in the setting, Outside The Wire has some issues in its characters. During several moments the rules of Leo as an android seem to change based on what is most convenient for the plot. One moment, Leo cannot refuse Harp’s orders, yet then he can. He is super emotional; then, he is a cold assassin. He must always be moral, but then… major spoilers.

The character jarringly changes scene to scene in addition to his intentions and relationship with Harp. Though the film attempts to explain some of these changes in Leo’s persona and why he can suddenly disobey orders, it quickly turns into a rabbit hole of contradictions and attempts to explain explanations.

I typically do not overly freak out about plotholes; I can suspend a reasonable amount of disbelief for the pure idea that I am watching a movie. With Outside the Wire, I could only look past so much. The dialogue is a lot of exposition and a lot of reminding the viewer what is happening. Despite this overexplaining, the picture neglects to explain the one point the audience needs: background on Leo’s inner workings. I was hoping to receive a cathartic explanation of the (apparently) many rules of Leo’s robotics. Unfortunately, all closure comes too little too late. The film has a great premise and some cool moments of action, but the overall delivery falls short of expectations.

Outside the Wire (2021)

Directed: Mikael Hafstrom

Written: Rowan Athale, Rob Yescombe

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Damson Idris, Enzo Cilenti, Emily Beecham, Michael Kelly, Kristina Tonteri-Young, Brady Dowad, etc.

Movie score: 5/10

Outside the Wire Image

"…this cybernetic sci-fi feature mixes military action with wartime morality."

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