Netflix review: Sci-fi war flick 'Outside the Wire' succumbs to B-movie tropes

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jan 23 2021 06:06 AM

A scene from 'Outside the Wire'

Making a crucial call in battle, drone pilot Lt. Thomas Harp (Damson Idris) disobeyed a direct order which caused the death of two marines. He was sent to work with Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie) in an army camp in the Ukraine countryside which is under the threat of terrorist Viktor Koval (Pilou Asbæk). Before they left to deliver vaccines and put Koval out of commission, Leo revealed to Harp that he was no ordinary soldier.

From the get-go, there were already remote-control weaponized drones and giant robots called Gumps in action. While "Outside the Wire" is a sci-fi war movie, it still felt like a number of war movies where American soldiers play the savior of an oppressed country against crazy terrorists. However, the scenes were made more somewhat more interesting with the addition of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology, including humanoid androids who incredibly possessed more emotions than real humans.

Anthony Mackie is very familiar with this role of a super soldier, as his most famous role of Sam Wilson in the "Avengers" series was such a soldier. Mackie also played a soldier in his major role as Sgt. J.T. Sanborn in Oscar best picture winner "The Hurt Locker" (2009), where his portrayal was critically-acclaimed. Here, Mackie still played well being bad-ass with style. He knew he was stronger, faster and smarter, and he sealed that with a rogueish smirk.

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Damson Idris played Lt. Harp as a cold and calculating soldier who only kept his eye focused on achieving the mission, without due regard to the human collateral damage it would entail. Of course, the tables would turn on him later on a much bigger scale to teach him vital lessons of trust and compassion. Harp's character went from cocksure triggerman who only cared about stats to selfless hero who truly cared about others, but that was not really surprising.

In the endgame, the film went autopilot into very familiar suspense tropes in B-movies that involved a nuclear bomb poised to destroy the USA and a countdown that would go down the wire up to the final seconds. Of course there will be one final debate between protagonist and antagonist about the ethical phisophies behind high-tech weapons of war while the clock was precariously ticking down to zero.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."

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