Mar 10, 2018
Today’s movie is “The Outsider” (2018), the post World War II crime drama directed by Martin Zandvliet and written by John Linson and Andrew Baldwin. The film follows Nick Lowell (Jared Leto), a former American GI who saves Kiyoshi (Tadanobu Asano), a member of the Shiromatsu Yakuza clan. Nick is offered work with the Yakuza after being released from prison, and lands right in the middle of a gang war.
This film has definite strengths and weaknesses. The biggest weakness, unfortunately, is Leto’s performance, which feels cold rather than the intended sociopathic. His love interest, Miyu (Shioli Kutsuna), also Kiyoshi’s sister, turns in a rough performance, almost a caricature. And I’m surprised they even kept Emile Hirsch in the film, given his rather limited role.
On the other hand, I love the setting a great deal. Osaka in the 1950’s is a wonderful setting to tell stories, and the costumes, sets and music all do a great job bringing it to life on screen and in the editing room. The film has above average direction and cinematography. If this were just a film about a Yakuza gang war, everything would have been in place, with the right amount of in your face, graphic gangster activity you would want from a crime drama.
But let’s face it, making a story about a gaijin who struggles for acceptance, and ultimately being better Yakuza than most, is just about the worst kind of whitewashing you can do. It was my one major fear with the premise of this film, and it really sucks that the film ended up right in that place. And along the way we lose the rich interplay between foreign interests, rising crime syndicates, and the struggles of a country recovering under occupation, which would have been a better use of the two hours.
“The Outsider” (2018) could have been a vehicle for so much more, and while the film has great direction and costumes, it ultimately suffers a great deal by the story and Leto’s performance. Fans of historical dramas and period pieces will appreciate the world they brought to life, if they can stomach the violence. However, if you aren’t into real gangsters doing real gangster shit, you will probably want to take a hard pass on the film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 9%
One Movie Punch: 5.2/10
“The Outsider” (2018) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix.