Warning: Minor spoilers.
CAPSULE: A British mercenary goes AWOL when he is told his daughter has been found dead of a drug overdose in Los Angeles. He goes to LA to find out what is happening and finds the dead girl is definitely not his daughter. He sets out to find where his daughter is and who the dead girl is. Brian A. Miller writes and directs an action film that makes for a fun evening, but does not stand out in a crowd. Perhaps it borrows more from the action film genre than it returns. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
Lex Walker (played by Craig Fairbrass) is a military contractor in Afghanistan who tries to follow orders, but he is his own man. He has a long record of military successes and just as long a record of incidents of insubordination. [Both of which seem almost de rigor among action heroes.] Called into his commanding officer's office he is informed that his daughter, living in Los Angeles, has been found dead, presumably of a drug overdose.
Walker has been out of touch with his daughter for many months and has no idea what she might be involved with. He requests leave to go and find out what has happened and his request is promptly denied. Well, his daughter is Walkers's only family and he is not going to let a direct order not to go stand in his way. [No, honest, I know this all sounds familiar but it is a 2014 film, and it is mostly newly shot.] First stop in LA is the coroner's office to identify the body for the police. Well, that stops him right there. He has never seen this dead woman on the coroner's table. That means his daughter may possibly still be alive. Where is she? And if this is not his daughter, who is it?
Investigating the incident is Police Detective Klein (Jason Patric). He and Walker have repeated run-ins and he does not know if he can trust Walker. Walker is trying to unravel the facts with his own subtle "bull in a China shop" style. His investigations bring him to his daughter's employer, a major corporation headed by a shady cyber-entrepreneur Schuster played by James Caan. Caan always makes a good villain. Here though the script does not let him play a very bright one however. Schuster seems to subscribe to the Darth Vader school of management. When a henchman makes a big mistake his punishment is to Schuster shoot him to death in cold blood in Schuster's own office. A corporate head might fire a disappointing employee, but he would not likely take the risk of personally murdering him in his own office. A number of people are killed in the course of the story and I am not sure the moral weight of that is properly handled in a script that is more anxious to have thrills than to have a dramatically satisfying plot.
Craig Fairbrass was not an actor I could remember ever seeing. His IMDB page lists what looks like a string of action films. He seems to be a Steven Seagal type but with a British accent that occasionally gave me trouble. I suppose it would be out of character for him to enunciate a little more clearly. Where Fairbrass has an advantage over other hero actors is that he is not particularly attractive. What M said of Bond in CASINO ROYALE is even truer of Fairbrass. He is a blunt instrument. He seems capable of real rage-filled violence in a way that a Daniel Craig is not. The casting of the film is decent, but as is frequently the case when the same person writes and directs, one talent is stronger than the other. Brian A. Miller was more ready to direct an action film than he was ready to write one. I would give THE OUTSIDER a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2198241/combined
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2014 Mark R. Leeper