This made-for-Netflix A.I. movie isn’t as intelligent as it should have been.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about why people were seeing “Wonder Woman 1984” in theaters, instead of just on HBO Max. It’s because people are willing to relive the theatrical experience, just as we’re getting the COVID-19 vaccinations or waiting for them at least. If their children keep watching movies online, they’re going to think new entries will only be released online. They’ll think everything is on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or any other streaming service. They’ll lose the knowledge of a movie theater, and the good people who work at those places will be out of jobs. So, it makes sense that way.
Reason I brought this up is because Netflix has released another movie called “Outside the Wire,” which is a Sci-Fi action war movie with robots, humans, and a combo of both. Anthony Mackie, who has earned more fame thanks to the MCU, produces and stars in it, and obviously, that’s going to attract streamers, find its place in its daily Top 10.
As a film critic, I found myself conflicted with this movie, because while I was impressed by its intentions and ideas, I was confused by its plot and annoyed by its yelling. After all, it is a war movie, so there has to be yelling.
The story is set in the year 2036, when a Civil War in Eastern Europe has reached new lows. Human soldiers collaborate with robot soldiers called “gumps,” and at this point, the prototype android military officer Leo (Mackie) intends to be more human than your average movie A.I.s. In fact, he’s kind of a smart ass when you first meet him. His first recruit is a drone pilot named Lt. Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), whose previous mission killed two soldiers, and thus, his punishment is to work with Leo. Their mission is to stop a Russian madman named Victor Koval (Pilou Asbaek) from possessing a doomsday device. But with every A.I. movie, there’s always has to be a catch.
The visual effects for Leo’s body underneath his skin camouflage is riveting, and I was easily impressed by how Harp removes a tracking chip from his body. He may be an android, but he’s still programmed to feel pain like a human. Mackie is well cast in the role, because of his attitude and charisma, which allows you to ease into his character. But the plot holes never seem to expand their horizons. You’re easily entertained by them at first, but then you start to realize they don’t take off.
I’ve already dismissed the yelling, but I must also mention that the villain the military is hunting is so bland, it’s impossible to comprehend. Koval eventually shows up, but he doesn’t do anything but trade one-liners with Leo, and gets killed.
Idris does some solid work as the young solider, who struggles to work with Leo, and still manages to thrive on the dangers and twists that he comes across. These actors are both able to find the chemistry with each other, but not even they could thrive on a convoluted and underdeveloped script. “Outside the Wire,” directed by Mikael Hafstrom (“The Rite,” “1408”), is a hit & miss affair with good ideas but not enough patience.
Streaming on Netflix