The Outsider Movie Review
Blunt and simplistic, there's not a moment in this thriller that feels inspired by anything other than criminal TV shows. This means that everything on-screen feels comfortably familiar, so we happily go along with the story even as it gets increasingly ridiculous. But just a bit of complexity might have helped us care about what happens.
When his daughter Samantha is found murdered in Los Angeles, military contractor Lex is called back from the front lines to claim her body. But after flying in from the Middle East, he discovers that it's not her. Local police Detective Klein (Patric) is more interested in investigating Lex than finding out what really happened to Samantha, so Lex starts to look into things himself. First, he checks out Samantha's shifty boss (Caan). Then, with the help of a friend (Elizabeth), he tracks down her boyfriend Ricky (Messner) and eventually finds Samantha herself (Ordway). And now there's a whole new set of problems.
Writer-director Miller tells this story as if it's a pilot episode for a cop series, eliminating any ambiguity by continually reminding us who's good and bad. As a result, there isn't a single surprise along the way, action scenes are predictable and the drama feels soapy and silly. It's not like there aren't strong themes gurgling under the surface, but none of the actors bother to break through. Fairbrass is such a meathead that we wonder how he could possibly be an elite tactical soldier, while Caan seems to be channelling vicious-thug-mode Robert DeNiro. At least he and Patric seem to be having some fun with their roles.
Otherwise everything is both overserious and undercooked. Just a hint of offhanded humour might have made these people feel like real human beings rather than cardboard cutouts (Patric does add welcome subtext in his banter with his partner Fields). But the chaotic plot is explained to the point where we lose all interest, and the climax is a farcical heist sequence. All of this would have been much more interesting if Miller bothered to explore the strained father-daughter relationship, the rivalry between American cop and British interloper, or anything really. As is, it dulls our minds like an escapist TV show. Which might be what you're looking for.