The Outsider (2018)
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Critic Reviews for The Outsider
Take Leto out of the picture and you have an even less noteworthy movie, a yakuza tale with an originality deficit.
Can a gaijin ever be trusted like family, or will his motives ultimately be self-serving? It's an interesting question in a story that's otherwise completely devoid of interesting questions, but The Outsider is too enamored with its foreign star.
"The Outsider" is a slick copy of multiple, much-better films and TV series. It's so well-polished it's practically featureless.
Designed to offer Western audiences the opportunity to see a Caucasian movie star, and a heartthrob one at that, in an unusual genre setting, The Outsider rarely manages to rise above its audience-baiting concept.
Dull, flavorless, and fundamentally incurious, "The Outsider" is a clueless misfire, the cinematic equivalent of a study-abroad student showing off the kanji forearm tattoo whose meaning he never bothered to learn.
Audience Reviews for The Outsider
The film is a little underwhelming which is partly due to the pacing by the filmmaker. Leto is interesting in the lead but the film that is built around him isn't a strong one. The film has scope but the substance isn't there, you keep feeling this is suppose to be a better film. I would have liked for the film to be another hour to really dive into the world they were attempting to create. I expected much more from this film and you are robbed of everything at every beat, the villain role is never explored and either is Leto's character. Good for a night in but this is another film that had potential to something grand. 12-03-2017.
You know, I've watched several yakuza movies in my lifetime and, in fact, am a fan of the Yakuza games released for three generations of PlayStations, though I've only played games 3-5 in the series. But, in reality, I feel like I know very little about the inner workings of the yakuza. While the Yakuza videogames are highly entertaining, their plots are convoluted and completely over-the-top, so I don't feel that it's a realistic representation of that world and all its complexities. I think Outrage and its sequel, Beyond Outrage is the closest that I've probably come to truly understanding how yakuza truly work and even then, it's not that those movies are perfect either, but I found them very entertaining. I haven't seen Outrage Coda, though I very much want to. The point is that, yakuza films have always been a topic that I'm always interested in watching because, as I see it, it's almost impossible to tell a movie in these setting with these types of characters. Boy, oh boy, how The Outsider changed that perception. You know, part of me feels that it has to be more difficult to make a boring movie about the yakuza than it is to make a good one. That's obviously not the case, bu there's a kernel of truth to that. I feel like you have to be actively trying to make a movie this boring for it to be this, well, you know, boring. And American guy trying to out-stoic the Japanese aside, this movie does have an interesting, if cliched, concept. The film takes place post-WW2 and sees this American rise through the ranks of this yakuza family. A family he was able to join as he saved one of their brother's lives and helped him escape from prison. Simple enough and I liked the fact that, it taking place post-WW2, and Nick being an American brought a tension with him that wouldn't have been there without him. But they don't really do much with it past some Japanese guy, who then gets stabbed in the neck repeatedly in a gruesome scene, that he doesn't work with Americans or the American that Nick was sent to deal with on the family's behalf being a racist asshole. They don't explore that post-war tension between two countries that have now become allies, though with this current president, who knows how long that will last. Let me point out the film's plot threads to you and you tell me if it sounds like it'd be an interesting movie. American guy released from prison joins yakuza as gratitude for saving one of their join, he then proceeds to join the family, falls in love with one of his brother's sisters, ends up (somewhat) being the reason for another brother's betrayal and joining the enemy's family and gets caught up in a war between two families. There's nothing too world-shattering about what I have said, but it does sound like it'd make for an interesting movie. Well, quite frankly, you would be wrong. This film is beautifully shot, Japan is has a bleak, almost post-nuclear look of drab gray. It fits the post-war feelings very well and the movie, again, has gorgeous cinematography. But I think the movie tries to be too artsy with its approach in that it forgets to tell an interesting stories with fully fleshed characters. It was concerned with the style and none of the substance. The fact of the matter is that you'd think that all of these story threads would make for a movie that's rich with content, but you would be incorrect. The pacing for this film is just absolutely dreadful. This is as thinly scripted as you would imagine and, therefore, despite having enough ideas to warrant a movie of this length, some scenes just end up going way too fucking long for their own good. It doesn't benefit anybody other than to satisfy the director's own ego, really. I can't even remember specific scenes off the top of my head, but I remember that there are several. I get that they wanted to show the passage of time for Nick, from joining the family to rising through the ranks, even though he remains at the same level until, like, the last 27 minutes of the film. If you were to edit this film to, at the most, 100 minutes, I think you still might not have a good film, but it's a better version of the story they wanted to tell. Because, as many ideas as they might have, they do next to nothing with them, so why stretch scenes out longer than they need to. There's no really interesting characters outside of Kiyoshi and maybe the head of the family. Kiyoshi really is the heart and soul of the movie and, in my opinion, the story would have been INSANELY more interesting from his point of view. Maybe that's just my fandom of Tadanobu Asano, who is very good here, but I'm sincere in feeling that his character is the driving force of the film and his ***SPOILERS*** death leaves a huge whole. There's no one to replace and Nick just isn't interesting enough to make up for his death. Perhaps you could make even make the argument for Orochi, given how he feels regarding Nick's presence. But Nick...oh, boy, Nick is a bit of an enigma isn't he? I feel that his cold and calm demeanor might be a disguise for the fact that, really, there's not actually much to the character. I like Jared Leto and I find that he does the best with what he's got, which isn't much. Nick really is a plot device, he's not really a character, he's just there to get the film's events started. He is there to create the wedge between Orochi and Shiromatsu that leads to Orochi's betrayal. Nick exists as a character because he needs a bridge to connect all of these events together, but the character is just terrible. And by terrible I mean that there's really nothing to him whatsoever. They explore just a SMIDGEN of his past and throw the idea in the air that whatever Nick did would get him a court-martialed. The implication being that he might have committed some sort of war crime. They just have one of Nick's former platoon members mention it, like an absolute moron, so Nick has someone else to kill. Because you see, apparently, at this point, we still hadn't killed enough people, so we needed one more body before the climax. I realize Nick's thing was being mysterious, but there's no reason that we couldn't have explored his military past in a quick flashback scene, just so we can see what type of person Nick really is. Obviously, throughout the movie he's proven himself to be someone that you do not fuck with, but to what extent you don't really know, because nothing is told about his past that helps you connect the dots of who he is. The last act of the movie is entertaining enough, this is when the war between the families start. It starts off stupidly, though. The Seizu family (the enemies) ask the Shiromatsu to come to neutral territories WITHOUT GUNS. The Shiromatsu, apparently forgetting the blood feud their clans have been having for the entirety of the movie, actually do come to the meeting without guns. And it's like, holy shit, can you guys be any stupider than this? The Seizu clan outnumber the Shiromatsu anyway, at this point at least, since a third of the Shiromatsu joined Orochi's betrayal. At this point you're sort of like, you kinda brought this on yourselves. They didn't even bring knives to a gunfight. At least then they'd have somewhat of a chance. They came completely unarmed. Outside of that, I found the rest of the war itself to be enjoyable. Of course, it's too late at this point to really change anything, because everything seems so centered around Nick that the war doesn't feel like more than just two old guys fighting over whose dick is the biggest. I believe I've mentioned the acting is more than solid, but the rest of the movie leaves a lot to be desired. There's no real character progression to Nick. He's just a stoic American who happens to work for the yakuza and apparently takes better to the world than a full-blooded Japanese yakuza would. Poor pacing, substandard plotting and characterization that would make Michael Bay look like Quentin Tarantino. This movie is certainly pretty to look at from afar, but that beauty really is only skin deep. There's nothing to this in spite of its relatively interesting concept. There's better movies more worthy of your time.
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