The Outsider (2018)

the outsiderrating 3.5You think writing a month's worth of movie reviews isn't going to be that hard. You'll watch some films; you'll write about them. Of course, you forget how hard it can be when you force it and don't have much to say about a given movie. And you really forget how, sometimes, you walk away from a movie barely remembering what you just watched, much less having an opinion about it.

The Outsider isn't the most boring movie I've watched this month. It's not too long. It's not too bland. It's not too anything at all. And, yet, I walked away feeling like I'd barely watched it in the first place. Not to say anything about it is bad, really. It's got an Academy Award-winning director helming it. It's got a cast of pretty good actors. The story initially starts out intriguing, before sort of petering out into all the cliches you usually see around a yakuza movie. But there was no plot points that made me angry, that made me tune out, that left me wanting. There's just something about it that feels a little hollow.

I often get that feeling from yakuza crime films, but that's usually because they're Japanese-made and I don't usually find many Japanese films to be worthwhile. This is a more Western take on the yakuza film, but it somehow ends up feeling the same. Jared Leto is in prison in 1950s Japan, where he saves the life of a yakuza gangster. Once he's out, he's given work and slowly becomes intertwined into the family, leading to its destruction and dissolution. He finds meaning in a forbidden relationship that leads to violence and tragedy. I'm sure the appearance of kabuki theater is not just an aesthetic touch and there's some connection to Japanese tragedies here. But all that is beyond my scope.

While the pace, like Leto's character, is slow, quiet, and methodical, with a few bursts of violence (kind of like a Refn film), I wouldn't say that it ever lost my attention. It's got a style that harkens back to the time period nicely. It's got all the components that should make it a good watch. Maybe the script just isn't quite interesting enough, but it never quite gets there. Maybe if the vengeance of the third act wasn't quite so hollow and muted. It felt realistic, but maybe some bombast would have gotten my attention. It's true to what it is, but maybe that isn't enough for me. But it looks good, it feels real, and it does what it needs to do. I'm just not sure why that doesn't really resonate with me. I guess I'm left feeling like the real outsider here.