This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
The world of Outlaw is supposed to be ours, as best as I could gather. This boldly ignores the fact that it patently isn’t, sharing more in common with Children of Men‘s bleak vision of London than what is, for its manifold faults, still one of the safer major world capitals to be in. Anyhoo, for the sake of argument let’s accept that the police are ludicrously corrupt, gangs of thugs roam the street doling out random beatings that go unpunished and, well, that everything that you’d read in the Daily Mail were you brainwronged enough to read the Daily Mail was the gospel truth. Of course, that’s opening up a whole new epistemic enquiry into just how true the gospel is, which is of little benefit to anyone. Let us instead draw a veil over the matter and never speak of this sorry episode again.
Paratrooper Danny Bryant (Sean Bean) returns to this bleak urban hellscape, finding it difficult to fit back in with a failing society. After blindly ploughing his motor into someone else’s car having previously been unsettled by a nightmare (no, honestly), Gene Dekker (Danny Dyer) takes a fairly mild beating which is frankly more of a sign of his idiocy than a collapsing social order. Top Q.C. Cedric Munroe (Lennie James)’s prosecution of an underworld kingpin leads directly to his wife and unborn child being killed, although usefully for the purposes of the film he has no way to prove said baddie was behind the deed. Sandy Mardell (Rupert Friend) was previously beaten by a gang of thugs so badly he’s scarred for life. Hotel security guard Simon Hillier (Sean Harris) is just weird and creepy. They reluctantly form a gang under Bryant’s leadership, ready to strike a blow for truth and justice and so forth and so on.
Aided by copper Walter Lewis (Bob Hoskins), disgusted with the corruption endemic in the force, the gang ponderously set off to revenge themselves on their transgressors over a timeframe that’s completely impossible to determine thanks to jarring cuts and downright broken pacing. Leaving that aside, only one of the characters, Munroe, has any sort of story arc that justifies an emotional involvement and moronically he winds up playing fourth fiddle to Bean’s gruff Northernisms, Hoskins’ shouty cockney act and Danny Dyer playing Danny Dyer, again.
There seems to be some attempt at social commentary from director Nick Love, which represents a sea change from prior, mostly vapid, recent outings The Football Factory and The Business. It’s main problems are that it fails at the commentary aspect because it says nothing of any real weight, worth or import, and it manages to fail at the social aspect by showing a degenerate society that simply doesn’t exist outside of the editorial pages of the right wing press. Even someone who’s fairly convinced that this world is heading towards hell in a handbasket quicksmart, someone like, say, me, can’t tally Outlaw‘s reflection of society with the real world and as such can’t be motivated to give much of a monkeys.
So then, it’s a poorly executed, poorly written, blandly albeit not badly acted film. Surely it can’t be all bad? I don’t remember feeling quite so vitriolic while sat in front of it, but a bigger problem is perhaps that I sat in front of it a mere two days ago and already struggle to remember any specifics of it at all. So I suppose the take-home message from this sermon is that Outlaw isn’t very good at all, but even if you are unfortunate enough to see it the experience is so forgettable that you’ll have, er, forgotten it completely before it can scar your long term memory. Hmm. I doubt I’ll be getting a quote on the DVD box for this one, then.