Thursday, January 14, 2021

'Outside the Wire' -- but not far enough

    Consider it a tribute to Anthony Mackie's command as an actor that he can play an android and still create one of the more intriguing characters in Outside the Wire.  A mildly futuristic action thriller,  Outside the Wire explores (if that's not too deep a word) issues revolving around collateral damage resulting from combat. 
    Mackie portrays Leo, an android who teams with a fully human soldier (Damson Idris) for an assignment in an eastern European combat zone. Set in 2036, the story follows Leo and Idris's Lt. Harp as they attempt to find a vicious warlord, locate some planet-threatening nukes and diffuse a global catastrophe.
     Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom adds a few decent sci-fi flourishes throughout: robot soldiers called gumps and occasional glimpses of Leo's innards, for example. Overall, though, the movie doesn't seem to be breaking new ground.
   The story's ethical dimension stems from Lt. Harp's behavior during the film's prologue. As a drone pilot who's far removed from the field of combat, he disobeys orders and fires on a missile launcher. His action results in the death of two marines. 
    Harp justifies his decision by insisting that he might have sacrificed two lives, but he saved 37 others. To teach him a lesson, his commanding officers send Harp into the field.
    An underused supporting cast includes Emily Beecham as a resistance fighter and Pilou Asbaek as a brutal warlord.
     Despite a few unexpected twists, Outside the Wire comes across as a near-generic helping of action that tries to serve up something more than standard action, but it's strictly a genre affair -- and not a superior one at that.

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