Anthony Mackie and Damson Idris star in Netflix’s Outside the Wire.
We live in a world that has had flying cars and robots that are indistinguishable from humans for at least two years. This advancement has happened despite the perpetual war that has been fought by our totalitarian superstate for over three decades, not to mention the 400% rise in crime that lead to the 1988 transformation of Manhattan into a giant prison. This is the reality of various futures dreamt up in Blade Runner, 1984, and Escape From New York, anyway.
Outside the Wire, a new Netflix movie from a production company you’ve never heard of, posits that in 2036 America will once again have to save the day from those pesky Russians, this time with the help of androids that look like Anthony Mackie. If this never comes to pass it will not be the first promise that this movie has broken, however; with a boring plot, laughable dialogue, and mediocre acting, Outside the Wire initially seems like it will be a fun action film with thoughtful discussions of passion, logic, and what it means to be human, but what it ends up doing instead is wafting into cinematic nothingness.
The plot as described above is about as interesting as the movie gets. Robo Mackie gets teamed up with a coolly dispassionate drone pilot, and together they are tasked with stopping some Russian guy from getting his hands on some nukes.
About two-thirds of the way through there is a plot twist that you will probably see coming a mile away. And that’s… pretty much it. Trite? Absolutely. Fun? Not at all, surprisingly. Movies with thin plots can absolutely work if the vehicle you use to get from point A to point B (the vehicle being dialogue, acting, action, etc.) is entertaining, but the vehicle here is lacking gas.
It’s actually pretty impressive how the production team managed to suck all the potential fun out of the premise; the fight scenes (which are, admittedly, pretty cool in a couple of instances) are simply not enough to keep one’s interest as deeper themes such as the role passion plays in war are brought up and either eventually forgotten or handled with the grace of a drunk giraffe on a pogo stick.
The dialogue that holds all of it together, on the other hand, often sounds like it was written by a 6-year-old with a dictionary of curse words and only a rudimentary knowledge of how to implement said curse words. I never once thought I was listening to real people talk.
Another reason for this is the acting. I can easily forgive Anthony Mackie for signing on to a movie just so he can play a robot that punches people, but the man often seems like he’s there against his will. As for the guy who plays the coolly dispassionate drone pilot? Well, let’s just say that he does a poor job of selling the ludicrous script as well. You can play boring and dispassionate without being boring and dispassionate, you know.
One thing we can be sure of when it comes to the future? Nobody will remember Outside the Wire.
Outside the Wire is now available on Netflix.