A drone pilot is dispatched to a deadly militarized zone where he finds himself working for an android officer tasked with avoiding an apocalyptic scenario in Outside the wire, Netflix’s latest high-profile feature film. This one stars Anthony Mackie as the Android protagonist, fresh out of his stunning performance in the independent sci-fi film Synchronique (included in our roundup last month of the best movies released in 2020). That, and Netflix’s strong track record with its feature films, is reason enough to be intrigued.
According to the official synopsis:
In 2036, America serves as a peacekeeping force, and human troops on both sides are supported by combat robots called Gumps and drone pilots monitoring skirmishes from thousands of miles away. But after stubborn drone pilot Lt. Harp (Damson Idris) disobeys a direct order to intervene in a conflict, the military deploys him to a military outpost to meet the human costs of its support on a button.
Harp’s expectations of keeping a fence are shattered when his new commander, Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie), announces his intention to infiltrate the demilitarized zone and apprehend Viktor Koval (Pilou Asbæk), a warlord who has l intent to launch a dormant nuclear weapons network. Soon, Harp learns that his theoretical background as a drone pilot means little on the battlefield under enemy attack, especially after discovering that Leo is an AI-enhanced super-soldier whose strength, speed and demand for results promise to turn his real world education into a test by fire.
That pretty much sums it up. The trailer opens with Harp arriving for his reassignment, apparently because he’s struggling to follow the rules – or, as Leo (the Prototype Ranked Super-Soldier) prefers to think about, an ability to “think outside the box.” beaten ”. A bit of a boyfriend-cop vibe separates the two, with Leo teasing his subordinate about the flabby inscription on the back of Harp’s girlfriend photo (“Awwww… ‘my gum bear….'”). We learn that Leo is capable of human emotions despite his intensive combat training (or, uh, programming), and he has an interesting trick to temporarily remove his tracker when he wants to get off the grid (“Sometimes you have to mess to see any real change ”). Then punches, property damage, and explosions come into play.
Netflix has had great success with its high-profile action features, and as a fan of the genre in general, I would normally say that looks promising, especially given Mackie’s involvement. (Did I mention he had crushed it in Synchronique?) But that might not be the kind of message Americans really want to hear right now, a day after violent insurgents stormed the nation’s Capitol, calling themselves “patriotic heroes” for justify a flagrant violation of the law.
This isn’t Netflix’s fault at all, because Outside the wire was written and filmed in August 2019. But context matters when it comes to what pleases viewers at any given time, and it might not be the best time for its release. Then again, maybe we’ll just find it cathartic to watch a breakout movie about a futuristic supersoldier and his brave sidekick foiling Koval’s dastardly plan.
Outside the wire arrives on Netflix on January 15, 2021.
Listing Image by YouTube / Netflix