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Film review 'Outside the Wire' - Plenty of sci-fi action but the cliches are rife

Outside the Wire (15) - Two stars


Damson Idris and Anthony Mackie ​in 'Outside the Wire'

Damson Idris and Anthony Mackie ​in 'Outside the Wire'

Damson Idris and Anthony Mackie ​in 'Outside the Wire'

The action scenes are big, brash and plentiful in Outside the Wire, a sci-fi thriller serving as a star vehicle for leading man Anthony Mackie, also a co-producer. It landed on Netflix this weekend.

But sci-fi and military movie clichés abound in the film, which leans far too heavily on ideas that have been better executed in other movies.

There are Eastern European baddies and robotic soldiers and missing nuclear codes — even a truth serum, for the love of God —while soldiers go AWOL and people shout things like “that’s classified information!”

It’s lazy storytelling, but in his defence the always charismatic Mackie and his supporting cast lean in to the B-movie, over-the-top spirit of the film.

Set in 2036, a violent civil war has erupted in Eastern Europe. US troops are stationed as peacemakers on this lawless frontier.

The frontier is controlled by a ruthless criminal warlord named Viktor Koval (Borgen’s Pilou Asbaek), a mysterious character that few people have seen. To combat his growing power, the Pentagon has deployed robotic soldiers named Gumps to active duty for the first time.

Following a dramatic shootout at the beginning of the film, an entire Gump unit is wiped out and several men are trapped.

It’s clear following the events of this attack that there is conflict between the humans and their counterparts that control the Gumps.

After disobeying a direct order that leads to the death of two men, Gump pilot Harp (Idris) is sent to the front line for an empathy check.

There, he comes under the authority of Anthony Mackie’s captain Leo, an AI prototype with a quick wit and a sharp tongue.

Koval is fighting to make the Ukraine part of Russia, and also has the nickname ‘the terror of the Balkans’.

He also has control over a significant number of Russian nuclear weapons.

Leo is going behind enemy lines to deliver badly needed medical supplies to a local nurse (Beecham) and he needs a great shot as an ally.

The movie can’t be accused of lacking plot — in fact there’s too much of it as the film leans in to exposition, twists and turns to try to paper over the fact we’ve seen all this before.

It’s all serviceable enough, and action fans will get their kicks, but you’d expect more given the cast involved.

The stars: Anthony Mackie, Damson Idris, Pilou Asbaek, Emily Beecham.

The Story: In the near future, a drone pilot sent into a war zone is paired with a top-secret android officer on a mission to stop a nuclear attack.

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Online Editors