In the vein of Taken, Craig Fairbrass stars as Lex, a British military contractor who is told that his daughter has died. When he arrives in Los Angeles he discovers that the body isn't his daughters, and that an internet fraudster is holding her hostage. Lex sets out to save his daughter, wreaking havoc through the streets of L.A. trying to rescue her.
The Outsider needs to come with a side-effect warning on the back of the DVD cover that it will give you amnesia. You will lose track of exactly what you we’re doing for 90 minutes. You’ll swear you watched a movie, but you can’t remember anything about it. Someone in your proximity may tell you that you watched a movie called The Outsider. The name is so generic that you can’t recall anything about it. You read some information on the plot and look up the trailer. Bits and pieces of the movie start coming together, but nothing wholly memorable. The cause is that The Outsider manages to be so cliche and passive about its simple and routine action setup that it will pass through your brain like white noise.
Craig Fairbrass plays Lex Walker, a soldier who returns to Los Angeles to identify his dead daughter. He arrives to discover that it is not her body at the morgue, but is still shaken that his girl is missing. Where did she go? It’s time to play detective as he tracks down her last known whereabouts back to the internet company she worked at, headed by business owner James Caan. Not satisfied with the answers he receives, Lex takes it upon himself to use some fancy digging and old fashioned beat downs to get to the truth. With the help of a local detective (Jason Patric), he uncovers the whereabouts of his daughter and a secret plot involving stolen identities.
None of the story really matters, however, as its just expositional dressing for a series of standard and tired action movie cliches. How many times have you seen the seedy businessmen escort a concerned do-gooder out the door without an appointment only to berate his gangster buddies afterward with a bullet? How about the scene where the bad guy takes a hostage at gunpoint ordering the cops to kick away their weapons only for the hero to emerge behind the antagonist? Or what about the scene where our band of heroes decide to use a woman as sexual bait to which she replies “wait a minute, no, no, no, I did not sign up for this” until she eventually agrees? And you can’t forget the scene where the heroes run against the clock as their USB drive downloads the information they need off the enemy’s computers.
Most of these scenes are so obviously staged for some forced moments of intensity. Lex is escorted out of the offices of the business owner clearly hiding something and decides to punch the pushy security guard. He doesn’t make any progress by doing so, but it feels like he needed to do it since the movie went for so long without some violence. Later on Lex fights another henchmen in a hallway, but unintentionally gives the bad guy plenty of time perform his hand-to-hand combat skills like a ballet of televised wrestling. When a bloody shootout finally takes place, all the guns are beefed up heavily in post-production with an abundance of glaring white flashes and big sounding bullets. Would it surprise you to learn that Lex is an expert shot at taking down every single bad guy without receiving so much as a scratch?
Director Brian A. Miller, slowly making a name for himself in forgettable tough guy pictures, dips into the big bag of action/thriller cliches and pulls everything out that he can. I almost wondered if he was aiming for the parody of nostalgia as if to say “remember this old chestnut” or “how about this typical scene.” Roger Ebert once wrote a book on the typical laws of predictable movies: all detours lead to a trap, all chases lead to smashed boxes, etc. If Miller hasn’t read this book, I hope he considers doing so in the future to see the error of this picture. Not to presume too much, but I get the feeling he’s learned more about movies from watching B-action pictures than anything else.
I don’t even get the satisfaction of seeing The Outsider be so bad that it’s good. It just ends up being the worst kind of bad movie: a boring one. I sat there and watched the actors, who seemed just as into this movie as I was, go through the motions of every blasé action picture I’ve ever seen. Not once does it attempt to venture further out of its preconceived shell and become anything more than just one more B-movie to add to the bargain bin. And given how many other movies there are out there with the bland title The Outsider, it’s going to sink far to the bottom of obscurity. It’s sad, but you don’t make a great movie by playing by the expected rules from a dated playbook.