The Outsider | NG Reacts
Hey you, yeah, you! We’re kicking off a monthly(ish) movie club. Sometimes we’re hitting the latest and greatest, other times we’re tackling the classics. The first movie we’re discussing is The Outsider which came to Netflix in March 2018.
If you would like to be part of next months movie club review. Get in touch through @Night_Gathers and we can include your responses.
A friend asks for a spoiler free elevator pitch for The Outsider… What do you say?
Dan - You know how Jared Leto has an air of arrogance about himself. It’s that, but in Japan. So if that’s ticking your boxes I would also like to add the trigger words Yakuza, World War 2, Tattoos and Samurai swords.
George - Imagine a great, engaging, atmospheric, period-set gangster film. Okay, you got that in your head? Now imagine the opposite. And instead of a dynamic screen presence that you could picture surviving a gang war in 1950s Japan like Tom Hardy or Michael Fassbender (apparently both were previously attached to the picture) you get a Jared Leto who is more porcelain doll than man.
Logan - Jared Leto is lost in translation during a yakuza patch-over party in post-WWII Japan.
We’re now going into spoiler territory. What the hell is this film trying to be? And does it remind you of any other films?
Dan - This film is almost has an American Psycho meets Joker origin story about it. Though it’s a stretch to even say it’s in the same category as American Psycho. It would however sit nicely with David Ayers Suicide Squad as a prequel. I think ultimately The Outsider is the perfect Netflix film. You would be angry if you paid $20 to see at the movies, but it’s an interesting enough experience not to begrudge the two hours of your life you’ve spent watching.
And as far as movies goes, it’s trying to do something we haven’t seen for while. It doesn’t particularly succeed, but at the same time it doesn’t fail enough not to work. The actual plot of an ex American GI staying in Japan post WW2 and getting caught up with the Yakuzu is interesting, though it’s one of those topics that almost feels rushed as a movies as you have to make up your own plot details at several points in the story.
George - I think it’s trying to be a commentary on how as the titular Outsider, Jared Leto’s character can never really truly belong. The problem is that this feeling of isolation and confusion that the film creates never allows the viewer to become engaged with the story. As a result, I didn’t care about who was being killed, I didn’t care about the outcome of the gang war, and I certainly didn’t care about the central character. The only bit I that kept me interested was Tadanobu Asano in the role of Kiyoshi. He’s like a Japanese Russell Crowe back when Rusty was smoldering and terrifying.
I think they were trying to give the Leto character (so bland I can’t even remember his name) a Clint Eastwood, Man with No Name vibe but it lacked the heft and drive to achieve that. I’m sure the Godfather would have been a touchstone for them during production but the film it reminded me the most of was a dramatic take on Mickey Blue Eyes. In fact, I think Hugh Grant would have been a better choice than “Jaded” Leto for the lead.
Logan - I love a bit of OG yakuza badd-assery and if this film could have packed in way more of that I would have been happier. As it stands, I don’t they were able to give us the real feeling of a Japan humbled by defeat to the US and also losing their emperor. It just wasn’t particularly well set-up with a lot of loose threads i.e. what was Jared Leto doing in prison?
There is no doubt at all, this film isn’t going to be for everyone. But it’s important to find something memorable… what’s your lasting memory of the Outsider, it can be a highlight, low light or just plain disturbing:
Dan - In terms of standout moments for me, it would have to be the scene where Leto and friends start giving up fingers to pay for the errors of their ways. The scene was disturbing as hell and I felt every second of it. In fact my pinky finger still tingles.
George - I was enjoying the obligatory finger chopping scene until the dumb gaijin tried to show just how serious he was by removing a second finger. When that happened I laughed out loud.
Logan - I loved the traditional sumo wrestling.I could almost feel the salt on my face and the shockwaves as the big fellas bump motors.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say there won’t be a sequel to this movie. Though pitch the best post sequel you could imagine for The Outsider 2.
Dan - Jared Leto’s future son, half American half Japanese returns to Tokyo to right the wrongs of the past and settle the debt his father wished he had. Baby Leto works his way through the biggest and baddest Yakuza families in Japan only to realise he’s become everything he’s ever despised. The Outside 2: Blood debt.
George - Open with Dave(? I can’t even be bothered to look up his name at this point) saving Kiyoshi from being strung up in prison at the start of the first movie. At this point, he’s taken to hospital, manages to get a message out and we get an alternate-reality of what would have happened if the stupid American hadn’t ever been released from jail. Kiyoshi wins the gang war and leads the Shiromatsu Yakuza clan to being the most powerful family over the course of a kick-ass trilogy of movies.
Logan - Jared Leto returns to the US of A and becomes a caretaker in a hotel, befriends a boy without a father and teaches him karate...
Final thoughts rating
Dan - It was the cornerstone of Fast and the Furious, and it’s the cornerstone of The Outsider. This movie is about family. Watch once and forget this one 60%
George - 30%; stay away. Leave this film in movie prison where it belongs. The only positive thing that could come of this is if Netflix sees how great Tadanobu Asano is and gives him his own ongoing series about organised crime in 1950s Japan.
Logan - A solid 60% movie for me - not angry just disappointed. Perhaps could be made better by doing shots every time Jared obviously doesn’t understand what the other actors are saying.