Excessive Engineering: Our Review of ‘The Outfit’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 17, 2022
Excessive Engineering: Our Review of ‘The Outfit’

Sometimes there can actually be just a little TOO much attention to detail…

In theatres tomorrow; The Outfit does more than enough to weave and entertaining crime yarn but it’s ultimately just not quite as clever as it thinks it is as it uses a few too many twists and turns to get where it needed to go.

An expert tailor (Mark Rylance) must outwit a dangerous group of mobsters in order to survive a fateful night.

While I’m all for a few quality twists and turns in a narrative to keep me in engaged; The Outfit ultimately gets to a point where it is squiggling all over its piece of paper just because it can.

This is the feature debut from co-writer and director Graham Moore that most audiences will know from his script on The Imitation Game.  While this story has a distinct and occasionally remarkable sense of style that fits the time period it leans on a few too many “reveals” from characters which all play a little hollow.

From minute one in this film we know that all the primary characters in our tale either have ulterior motives or something about their past that they’d like to hide.  While it’s all about as subtle as a freight train through church we are still roped in through the magic of it being a very specific and deliberate set piece.

It almost feels like it is a stage play and it is rather good at creating tension throughout keeping us as a viewer relatively stationary while it bounces us through the primary characters allowing for a “whodunit” vibe as each character tries to pull on over on the other.  We’ll admit this all could have a used a little bit of trimming as it gets a little too cute with what it wants to do, it is ultimately salvaged by a fantastic leading man performance.

Mark Rylance is the kind of actor who could sit and read the phone book and we’d be compelled by every word that comes out of his mouth but here as Leonard the tailor we see a man of a duel nature.  On one end his a quiet and gentle man who simply wants to do his work and be left in peace while doing it, but on the other side of that coin we see a man who is adept and dare we say masterful at the art of survival.  It’s through necessity but he is a world weary soul who knows how to harness years of street smarts to his ultimate benefit.  Rylance achieves all this with a whisper and a whimper which is an accomplishment of character building unto itself.

Zoey Deutch is going to be one to watch for years to come and here as Mable she is a kindred spirit with her friend the tailor looking for a way out of an environment that she knows she doesn’t want anything to do with.  Sadly Dylan O’Brien is a little flat as the ambitious but somewhat clueless son of a young local mobster while Johnny Flynn just snarls a little to floridly in a Chicagoan accent to play the vicious young mobster trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

At the end of the day, The Outfit keeps its head above water thanks to an unsurprisingly masterful turn by Mark Rylance as long as you can keep up with the twists and turns in the script that try a little more than they needed to be clever.

  • Release Date: 3/18/2022
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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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