by Ian Morton
Anthony Mackie boldly steps out from his looming Marvel shadow in the latest Netflix exclusive ‘Outside the Wire’, an intriguing yet cold hearted antiwar film set very firmly within the sci-fi genre.
The film begins in a very near future in which the American military have been drafted in as peacekeepers while civil war rages through Eastern Europe. After a drone operation goes wrong, pilot Harp (Damson Idris) is sent to the frontlines as punishment for disobeying a direct order, an act which lead to 2 soldiers losing their lives.
Despite his plea that his actions were based on reasoned logic, the former pilot finds himself in the care of Leo (Anthony Mackie), leader of an elite military unit tasked with heart and care warzone operations. The twist? Leo is an android and their mission is more than just delivering a batch of vaccinations to war victims.
What on the surface may look like your standard action flick, Outside the Wire is more than its trailer would have you believe – even if the third act proves somewhat disappointing. Taking notes from arguably some of the greatest films the genre has to offer, the bleak setting provides the perfect backdrop to explore one of the biggest themes raised by the genre in modern times – AI. Alex Garland’s Ex Machina echoes strongly in the background as the film juxtaposes the logic of warfare with artificial intelligence in a way that gives the audience a great deal to ponder after the credits have rolled.
Anthony Mackie proves the films biggest draw as the sentient android at the heart of the film. With arguably some of the clunkiest lines of dialogue the film has to offer, Mackie remains impressively convincing despite the films efforts to unravel in the final moments – a pleasant surprise given some very rocky performances in oddly similar roles.
The most exciting thing about Outside the Wire is just how much fun I had with it. Sure, its a little clunky around the edges but it manages to get under the skin of plot in a way that proves both satisfying and challenging at the same time. If you’re after a little sci-fi action this January, then this might indeed be the film for you!
Outside the Wire is out now on Netflix.
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