Outside the Wire is an American science fiction action film starring Anthony Mackie, Damson Idris, Emily Beecham, Michael Kelly and Pilou Asbæk. It is a Netflix exclusive film which was released globally earlier this month. The story follows a drone pilot (Damson Idris) who disobeys orders and as punishment is sent to frontline operations in Ukraine where he is assigned to work with an android super soldier (Anthony Mackie).
The film starts off with a fast paced tempo and dives straight into the action with us seeing a team of Marines ambushed by enemy forces in Ukraine. This is where we see drone pilot Lieutenant Harp (played by Damson Idris) disobey orders to call in a drone strike which kills 2 marines but saves 38. This sets the scene for the remainder of the film and Harp faces the frontline and sees first-hand the destruction his drone work causes. Harp’s battle with his moral compass is a compelling watch, yet isn’t utilised enough throughout the film.
Both Anthony Mackie and Damson Idris play their roles very well and I was surprised to read that this was Damson’s first breakthrough film, as he is very accomplished in the role of Lieutenant Harp. Sadly their performances are overshadowed by a confusing and disjointed plot.
The film is set in the future, in the year 2036 and focuses on a civil war between pro-Russian insurgents and local resistance in Ukraine, which results in the US deploying peacekeeping forces. In the midst of all of this, there is a terrorist attempting to gain control of a network of nuclear missiles. I was really invested in the premise of the story as it was almost reminiscent of a Call of Duty campaign and didn’t delay in getting on with the narrative.
However from around the half an hour mark, the film begins to drop off. The plot becomes disjointed with the viewer not being able to tell which of the 4 sides to trust or what their real motives are. Throw into the mix that the android super soldier attempting to pursue the terrorist, Victor Koval, is acting against his programming to stop the release of the nuclear missiles, but then decides that he is going to release the missiles himself – there were just a lot of twists to the plot which were unnecessary. I was left questioning a number of moments throughout the film but to only receive a flippant comment here and there was not sufficient enough. There were times in the film that the writing was woefully poor.
We do however get a fascinating insight as to what advanced warfare may look like in years to come. The “Gumps”, which are robotic soldiers, are actually one of the best features of the film and it’s interesting to see the relationship between the Marines and the Gumps, with some humans resenting them and others accepting them. The Gumps are a little trigger happy, often making toxic situations worse and it does provoke you to think about whether robotic soldiers could be used in the future and whether or not they could be trusted.
There are plenty of action scenes throughout the movie with the most impressive scenes coming in the opening half an hour, I particularly enjoyed the conflict between the Gumps and Marines against the Russian insurgents. The rest of the action is enough to keep your attention for the remainder of the movie but there are no scenes that will truly take your breath away.
Outside the Wire opens with a promising look into what advanced warfare could look like in the not so distant future, but its disjointed and confusing plot left me disappointed with the final result.