A crime drama that’s tailor-made as it is clever.
If you can try your best to follow a gangster plot regarding bugs and rats and betrayals, the least you can do is be absorbed by its execution, style, and cleverness. The kind of stuff that “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and “The King’s Man” have overdosed on. You’re supposed to keep everything on a delicate balance, and you don’t always need to rely on commercialism to be entertaining. “The Outfit” is one of those crime movies to reel you in, try to talk in the gangster language about what’s going down, and then reels you in again at how it all plays out.
Let’s get Mark Rylance as the main protagonist Leonard. The synopsis says he’s a tailor, but he clarifies that he’s a cutter and there’s a big distinction. He’s from London, but relocated his shop to Chicago in 1956 with the excuse of blue jeans stepping in. Thanks a lot, James Dean.
The place he choses to have his tailor shop looks and feels like something out of London. I think it may have something to do with the time period, but I still have a thing for old buildings. The production design was done by Gemma Jackson, whose credits also include “Finding Neverland” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” So, it kind of makes sense to pick her for the job. And leave it to Sophie O’Neil and Zac Posen to make the clothing in the store and on the characters look vintage and classy.
He also has the spunky, young receptionist Mabel (Zoey Deutch), who wants a raise so she can get out of this country, and do a little world traveling. He agrees if he can teach her to fold some material in square properly.
And two of his clients are gangsters: the tough-talking Richie (Dylan O’Brien) and his rougher protector Francis (Johnny Flynn), and they both work for Ritchie’s father (Simon Russell Beale, sounding like Dom Deluise doing his Godfather impressions on helium-not too much though).
Leonard is in for the night of his life, when someone plans to rat the gangsters and their organization “The Outfit” to the feds. This is where things get a bit convoluted, and yet, somehow, you still are interested in the execution.
“The Outfit” is the directorial debut of Graham Moore, who is best known for writing “The Imitation Game.” Both he and Johnatahn McClain write the film with a mean-streak and a sense of versatility. I can’t spoil anything for you, but even if we can predict one or two things, we can’t predict the rest, and that’s valuable.
Rylance owns the screen as Leonard in the ways he keeps his tone and age with longevity and intelligence. It’s one of his most memorable performances since “Bridge of Spies.” Deutch gives her best performance since “Everybody Wants Some” in the ways she uses her independence and timing for the receptionist. She can be a better actress than “Vampire Academy” and “Dirty Grandpa” shooting her down. This is a smart role for her. And Flynn is convincing in the role of rougher gangster, who refuses to let anything go wrong.
I didn’t watch a trailer for this movie, but then again, my grandfather (rest his soul) told me he never watched them, and instead allowed himself to be taken by surprise. I was concerned I might be bored by the gangster dialogue, and I may have been confused by parts of it, but I wasn’t bored. I was eager to find out who the rat is and who the real villain is.
“The Outfit” is willing to take its chances and roll the dice. It wants us to be taken into the tailor or cutter or whatever we should call him’s situation and life. Rylance was also in “Don’t Look Up,” which half of us didn’t care for, but is still up for the Best Picture nomination at the upcoming Oscars. Give my analysis, I’d say “The Outfit” is the one for you.