Netflix has had some mixed success stories when it comes to its Originals film brand, but it’s an understatement to say that it’s latest offering looks set to be one of its biggest flops yet.
The Outsider, starring Jared Leto, dropped on the streaming service on Friday – and on the surface it looks to be a slick crime drama in the vein of Only God Forgives.
The period piece sees the Oscar-winning actor take on the role of a former American soldier in Japan back in the fifties, who, following a stint in prison, falls in with the Yakuza.
As the films progresses, the central character, Nick Lowell, is inducted into the criminal underworld of post WWII Japan and finds himself at home in the alien world of honour-bound crime.
Prior to its release the film suffered a slight PR catastrophe as it was accused of whitewashing by casting Jared in the lead role of what is essentially a Japanese period-film, but then again the story lends itself to the casting.
However, after dropping on the streaming service the film has received a tonne of what would be fair to say damning reviews.
In fact, one reviewer went so far as to say that it’s worse than Bright (Will Smith and Joel Edgerton’s critically panned Netflix blockbuster fantasy outing).
But, just what is it that seems to have got everyone so down on The Outsider?
The overall plot of the film seems to be one of the more outstanding problems for critics who’ve deigned to review it.
Starting out in prison, the film slowly charts Leto’s character as he becomes aware of and immersed in the Yakuza life, slowly his Gaijin gains the trust of the family he falls in with and he becomes one of its more wily and violent enforcers.
At the same time a love story ticks along behind the action, pitching Nick and his friend’s sister into an addictive romance which crosses the line with the Yakuza.
What the reviewers said…
The Guardian: ‘It’s by no means impossible to carve a challenging, meaningful story out of difficult interchanges between the east and west. To return to Scorsese, consider Silence, a fine film about European men slowly realising just how little they understand of Japan. But neither Zandvliet, Baldwin, nor Leto care to look beyond themselves.’
Thrillist: ‘Unfortunately, The Outsider is a dull vehicle for that hotness. Arriving mere months after Netflix’s last movie-star-driven project, the cops-vs-magical-creatures action saga Bright, The Outsider is actually worse than that Will Smith trainwreck, which was widely derided by critics as one of the worst movies of last year. (Audiences seemed to enjoy it more:Bright 2 is currently in the works.) Where Bright at least had a meat-headed sense of humor to go with its unearned sense of self-importance, The Outsider is needlessly cruel, dour, and slow. No amount of brooding from a handsome leading man can save it.’
IndieWire: ‘You probably don’t need a critic to tell you that The Outsider, a tragically real crime drama in which Jared Leto plays a silent but violent enforcer for the Yakuza in post-war Japan, is 100% horrendous. After all, when was the last time you saw a good Yakuza movie starring Jared Leto?’
Variety: ‘Dull, flavourless, and fundamentally incurious, The Outsider is a clueless misfire, the cinematic equivalent of a study-abroad student showing off the kanji forearm tattoo whose meaning he never bothered to learn.’
As it is, the film is beautifully shot – that much people can agree on – and the locations and cinematography are a certainly a treat. Whether or not you enjoy it is another question altogether.
The Outsider is available to stream on Netflix now.
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