I cannot lie to you MMT Fam, THE OUTFIT is so not what I was expecting prior to viewing. My love of crime films and TV series is serious. From The Godfather trilogy, Scarface, and The Untouchables, to Goodfellas and New Jack City, to The Wire and The Sopranos, to more recent fare like the Power saga, Queen of the South and Ozark, I’ll watch almost anything crime, cartel or gangster related.
So, this being billed as a crime drama, and with the exceptional cast it contains, my expectations were set pretty high and I came in just knowing things were about to “go down” and pretty quickly.
However, when I started watching this film, I felt like it was more of an adapted from the stage to screen, theatrical, slow-burning whodunit. But as the narrative unfolds, and the tension in the story builds, I can honestly say I was made a believer and fully invested until the thrilling final act – even though there’s no inciting incident until after the 20-minute mark.
Set in 1950’s Chicago, the film stars Academy-award winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) as master cutter, don’t mistake him for a tailor, Leonard whose shop is infiltrated and used as a drop off/pick up destination for the mafia. When a mobster is injured and brought to his shop by another gangster, secrets are spilled, danger ensues and Leonard must survive the night before he becomes a casualty of the danger games at play.
Academy-award winning director Graham Moore (The Imitation Game) weaves a cunning tale – which he co-wrote with actor/producer Johnathan McClain in his debut as a feature film writer – with mystery, slow revelations and ultimately a curveball that makes all of the build-up to the good stuff well worth it. But I guess I should have expected nothing less from a man who started out as a crime/mystery author before segueing to film.
And Ryland’s performance is simply spell-binding as the willingly gullible shop owner, who masterfully progresses to someone much more aware than he initially leads everyone to believe.
But one of the biggest highlights of the film for me comes in the final act, when some heavyweights of “The Outfit” – which is doubly defined as a suit and the name of the Chicago mafia – show up and include the phenomenal Nikki Amuka-Bird (OLD) as the no-nonsense crime boss Violet.
With Zoey Deutch, Johnny Flynn, Dylan O’Brien, and Simon Russell Beale rounding out the cast, this film is nothing short of a well-acted, slow-burning, old-school thrill that rewards everyone who is patient enough to sit back and enjoy the ride. I rate it 4 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
THE OUTFIT opens Friday, March 18 in theaters.
Until next thought, Thomasena