While Netflix has found recent success with the Chris Hemsworth actioner “Extraction” and Charlize Theron’s “The Old Guard”. The streaming giant has their intention to turn both films into their own personal franchises (although there is talk of a sequel to both films). Now Netflix has a new “quick cash grab” action, sci-fi film that they hope would follow in the footsteps of their previously mentioned original films.
Netflix’s newest is a combination of the kinetic action of “Extraction”, a little of “Call Of Duty”, Schwarzenegger’s classic “The Terminator” and a slew of military action-tactic films. “Outside The Wire”, which debuted on Netflix January 15th is directed by Mikael Hafstrom, the director of John Cusack’s “1408” and the Schwarzenegger and Stallone prison flick “Escape Plan”. Hafstrom’s “Outside The Wire” takes place in the year 2036, where Eastern Europe is decimated by civil war and the nation is ruled by terrorist Koval (Pilou Asbaek), who seeks ultimate power over the region.
In America, drone pilot Harp (Damson Idris “The Commuter”) has been removed from duty after defying a direct order and sent to a demilitarized zone on the Krazny border. He’s being punished for his actions, forced to experience real combat on the ground in an unstable area of the world that he once bombed from afar. Paired with Leo (Anthony Mackie, The Falcon from “The Avengers”), a “Terminator” like cyborg is tasked with delivering crucial vaccines to villages in need.
Leo doesn’t have much patience with Harp, but the men are forced to battle their way through numerous war zones, dealing with Koval’s crew and his Russian robotic soldiers. During the mission, Harp and Leo turn their focus to unmanned nuclear silos in Ukraine, with Koval eager to acquire launch codes for the missiles, planning to wipe out his enemies. Stepping up to prevent the global devastation, both Leo and Harp hunt for Koval and learn more about each other along the way.
Mackey’s Leo is “not like us”, another officer warns Harp. At first, we find Leo listening to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald duets while he analyzes intel in his office. But nobody knows that Leo is a robot who is advanced by five years who is designed to feel pain as a means to seem human and develop empathy, while he curses like a room full of sailors. Once the bullets start to fly, is when you get a glimpse that his reflexes and his precise way with violence are above human. He is the future of military ingenuity, putting a greater distance between humans and the realities of combat war.
“Outside the Wire” presents itself as a military action thriller with clear ideas, but the screenplay by Rowan Athale and Rob Yescombe, uses it’s down time to have the duo debate a philosophical war over the greater good, the ways of humanity and the much easily ignored aftermath of drone assassinations. Being in the battlegrounds with Leo, Harp gets to see the real tragic impact of his actions as a drone pilot up close and personal.
It’s a film that has a few things on its mind and wants to be a social commentary on the violence of war. Instead it pushes to being more of a conventional sci-fi military actioner, that will attract a lot of attention from the streamer’s action fans who are looking for a night of pure entertainment value.
Hafstrom organizes his bruising action sequences, with tense chases and hand to hand fight scenes giving us a good amount of well done CGI work. Choreographed explosions and gun fire are kinetic in sets and locations such as a bank and bombed out neighborhoods. Hafstrom does a commendable job arranging the action to hit hard with an extensive bodily harm (although Netflix’s “Extraction” did this much better).
Hafstrom keeps the overlong two hour picture with bursts of excitement as the performances from Mackie and Idris sell whatever emotional aspects of the film there is. “Outside the Wire” has a driving plot, with a high concept idea that is not to be taken seriously, but Hafstrom sustains his biggest project as a filmmaker with dedication that is praiseworthy, into an entertaining macho action flick.
GRADE: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5)