Tirelessly working to uncover the mysterious actions of what drives a person to commit seemingly uncharacteristic actions can be a challenge for the faint of heart who have little experience of exerting themselves in unfamiliar areas. But the main anti-hero in the new action crime thriller, ‘The Outsider,’ is a tough mercenary who will stop at nothing to protect his daughter, even if it means putting his career and life in danger to explore the politics of a foreign country. Writer-director Brian A Miller is similar in nature and understands his character’s need to uncover the truth in unfamiliar territories. The filmmaker bravely explores the determined, and at-time malicious, behavior of a parent who won’t let any physical or emotional barrier stand in his way of rescuing his daughter.
‘The Outsider,’ which is now playing in select New York theaters, follows British mercenary Lex Walker (Craig Fairbrass) as he’s recalled from the battlefields of Afghanistan to identify the remains of his daughter, Samantha (Melissa Ordway). He goes against the advice of his superiors and leaves before his contract is over to bring Samantha back to London. But when he arrives in Los Angeles, where she has been living for the past few years, he discovers that the body in the morgue belongs to a stranger.
With his daughter now missing, Walker convinces the street-wise Detective Klein (Jason Patric) that his daughter is still alive and in danger. The former military man also recruits a young bartender, Margo (Shannon Elizabeth), who seemingly knows Samantha’s whereabouts before she disappeared.
Walker, Klein and Margo follow a trail of high-tech intrigue that leads them to his daughter’s former boss, Carl Schuuster (James Caan), a crooked cyber-millionaire who will do whatever it takes to protect his empire, including taking down anyone who gets in his way. Driven by desperation and rage, Walker must fight his way through an army of thugs and hired killers to save the one person that means more to him than life itself.
Stunt coordinator Don Abbatiello effortlessly created plausible stunts the at-times intimidating Fairbrass could easily maneuver in order to get what he wants. While Walker does try to calmly and rationally try to reason with Klein and Schuuster in an effort to elicit help in finding his daughter at first, he quickly loses his temper when they refuse to cooperate and help him. Abbatiello incorporated brazen fight sequences into the crime drama that accentuate the English actor’s physical abilities. Whether Walker is readily knocking his daughter’s former employer’s bodyguards to the floor when Schuuster denies knowing Samantha, or skillfully shooting at a seemingly immoral nightclub worker who initially denies having any involvement with her, the stunt sequences are filled with non-stop adrenaline.
However, despite the natural ease Fairbrass brings to the mercenary training his character so readily relies on to get what he wants and persuade people to change their illegal and unethical motives, the overall action and story feels overly clichéd. Much like the protective anti-hero showcased in many other similar action movies, particularly a father sets out to defend his daughter, as seen in several films from fellow English actor Jason Statham, as well as Liam Neeson, ‘The Outsider’ unfortunately fails to differentiate in terms of story.
While Miller made it clear that Walker is desperate to find and save Samantha, the filmmaker does little to explain its important plot elements, such as why the father-daughter relationship is strained, or Schuuster’s true motivations in, and connections with, the case. Primarily focusing the action through Walker’s point-of-view regrettably fails to help build the tension of how and why Samantha went missing, and how the detective’s meddling suspicions forced the former mercenary to take eve more drastic measures to find and save her.
‘The Outsider’ is another high-caliber entry in the vengeance and revenge action subgenre that features intense, captivating stunts that are effortlessly performed by skilled actor. Abbatiello choreographed intriguing stunts that elaborately showcased Fairbrass’ elaborate techniques that he infused into his character’s determined nature. Unfortunately, the continuous testosterone-fueled physicality that immediately engrossed viewers failed to hold up Miller’s at-times stereotypical story about a protective father who willingly sacrifices himself to defend his innocent daughter from the perils of danger she unwittingly placed herself in.