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Movie review: ‘The Outsider’ is like ‘Taken,’ but with lens flare

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The Outsider

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Grade: D

A man’s daughter goes missing, and he will do anything to find her. No, this is not another “Taken” film, but it sure does feel like it. “The Outsider,” which releases to select theaters on Feb. 7, is almost an exact replica of many other, better films of the genre. And while we do get to watch the legendary James Caan; the lovely Shannon Elizabeth; and the usually reliable Jason Patric all act together, none of them really look that interested in being in the film. Can you blame them?

Lex (Craig Fairbrass) is a British military contractor who has been informed that his daughter, Samantha (Melissa Ordway), has died. When the military refuses to let him go to the U.S., he basically gives his boss the middle finger and quits. When he arrives in Los Angeles, the body that has been taken into the morgue turns out not to be his daughter, but someone else. Now, he has to figure out what really happened to his daughter.

One of the unintentionally humorous moments in “The Outsider” is when Lex walks into his daughter’s former employer, which is called Most Industries. It’s such a generic, go-to title for a company – just like how “The Outsider” relies on so many generic, go-to plot devices to move the story along.

Fairbrass does look like he might be the next leading action hero. Heck, he seems like he belongs in an “Expendables” film. But here, he’s completely stiff and emotionless. Watching him take down bad guys should be fun, but it’s boring. We’ve seen a lot of the things he’s done before this, but they’ve been done with better skill.

And if you think J.J. Abrams overdoes the lens flare in his films, you will find his use of the technique acceptable after watching “The Outsider.” It takes up nearly every corner of the screen, rendering the film almost unwatchable. Then again, the film itself is pretty much unwatchable because of the stilted screenplay and dialogue.

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