Outside the Wire (Action, Sci-Fi) (2021)
Director: Mikael Håfström
Writer: Rob Yescombe (Story/Screenplay) Rowan Athale (Screenplay)
Stars: Damson Idris, Anthony Mackie, Michael Kelly, Pilou Asbæk
Having disobeyed his superiors direct orders, drone pilot Harp gets prosecuted within the armed forces he serves. Despite his serious infractions, he's lucky to serve his punishment at a training camp near the DMZ.
Lt. Harp is ordered to report to Capt. Leo, an unorthodox Captain in all accounts that will take the disobedient Lieutenant under his wing. However, nothing appears to be as it seemed at first; Leo is actually a high tech bio-mechanical soldier. The decision to retrain Harp is purely for Leo's gain. Harp has been personally selected to take part in a secret mission deep into hostile territory.
The story is set in the near future as Russia is in conflict with Ukraine in a war for annexation. Located within the country are multiple ex-USSR missile silo's housing nuclear warheads. Leo and his new subordinate Harp's goal is to hunt down Viktor Koval, a brutish warlord who is unsurprisingly also after the nuclear warheads. As you may notice, it is all quite generic. Outside the Wire uses its Sci-Fi tropes to sell a paper-thin action plot. As usual, we are considering Russians to be evil, and for some reason, everyone in Ukraine is excellent at English. And why is our main baddie Koval using the Moniker "Beast of the Balkan", The conflict is taking place a bit too far north for that. Perhaps there is some lore they left out of the final cut, but his name doesn't redeem this mistake either, being Ukrainian as well. At least it sounds catchy and menacing, so there's that!
The relationship between the "Rookie" and hardened captain works well, factoring in Leo's uniqueness being a highly advanced bio-mechanical soldier. However, there are better examples of this human/android interaction, "Almost Human" comes to mind. Nevertheless the initial twist of Harp being assigned to a mech captain it's at least a bit different.
Looking at the action sequences, taking away the focus from the guiding story, It doesn't fare much better. It's okay but highly overdone and generic clinging onto every cliché in the book. At many points in the film we see mechs called "Gumps" that seemed to be moving in stop-motion and didn't fit in much due to the fact. Capt. Leo appears invincible tying into his backstory, but the movement is unimpressive and straightforward. Effective and calculated was the look they were going for, but this ends up looking cheap.
To some Outside the Wire will serve its purpose as a Sci-Fi action flick, but the generic story, unsuccessful effects and predictable casting choices do more harm than good.
After his success in Avengers, Anthony Mackie might want to consider to stay inside the wire from this point forward.