Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

From British director Nick Love we have a little bit of anarchy coming from across the pond in his film ‘Outlaw’ which features a bunch of men who are sick and tired of being pitiful bitches and electing to fight back. Note that I live in Detroit. Not some suburb of Detroit but Detroit proper, but let me tell you that London as it was portrayed by auteur Love has me thanking the Lord above for the safe sanctity of the Motor city.

Gene (Danny Dyer) is driving down the street with his pretty bride Kelly (Sally Bretton) on their way to their wedding when he gets chased by a carload of hooligans, pulled out his ride and beat near to death. Fortunately it’s just a dream but it does portend to what is to come. Gene you see is a bit of a wimp and completely shies away from confrontation which makes him sick about himself. Then there’s Cedric (Lenny James) who is the barrister prosecuting the local mob boss known as Manning (Rob Fry) when he gets a visit in the john from some dude who advises him to step away from the case or his pregnant wife will get a visit. How in the hell is a prosecutor going to just going to excuse himself in the middle of a trial is beyond me, and Cedric relays this information to the thug, but apparently these thugs just don’t give a damn and murder my man’s lady, baby and all, leaving Cedric a miserable widower, powerless to fight back while the brutal Manning gives him a knowing wink from the stand. He asks his driver, police officer Lewis (Bob Hoskins) what’s a man supposed to do in this situation but Lewis has no solution. At least not now.

Salvation comes for these men in the form of Danny Bryant (Sean Bean), a gulf war vet released from service, and looking like he felt every bit of Al-Qaeda’s wrath. He just wants to go home and be with his wife but when he gets to the crib damn if the woman hasn’t moved some new lover into his house, which ain’t ever cool, causing Danny to quietly slink away without even so much as a peep, keeping his return a

secret from his whoring wife. Danny takes residence in a flop house run by the completely off his shite security guard Simon (Sean Harris) who seems to be the common thread for these men to join up with the frustrated war vet and take revenge on those who would skirt justice under a corrupt and lazy police presence. With the gruff and angry Danny leading the way of his very reticent crew of vigilantes, they start out roughing up some low level thugs in a brutal manner but these guys aren’t exactly high on the skill pole, even when police officer Lewis joins in their little excursion leading to their plan going straight to hell and the hunters quickly becoming the hunted.

‘Outlaw’ is a very interesting and compelling film, but it’s also uneven in its presentation and narrative. On the one hand it’s a revenge flick pure and simple featuring a group a characters, some of whom who have suffered the worst kind of loss, desperate for revenge. But on the other hand it turns into a morality play with these same characters that don’t really seem to want to take their revenge, causing you question why they signed up for the program in the first place. I can see where Love just didn’t want to present his characters as bloodthirsty commando Dirty Harry’s, since these were just average Joe’s, but they were still very frustrating. Considering that vigilante justice and murder is wrong in the first place it would seem one is either in or out. But as it played out here, Danny would set up the mark, the crew would then be required to perform some violent act and then just back out… repeatedly. Just stop trying to be a vigilante. If you can’t enact revenge on someone who killed your family, then this is something you’re probably not cut out for. The film just seemed to jump back and forth between vigilantism and moralism a bit too much for me.

Nonetheless ‘Outlaw’ was a very gritty and tough film. Love goes with hand held cameras for the majority of his film which creates a very uneasy and unsettling mood, though times it seems as if the shakiness was getting a tad out of control. The film is also punctuated with very good performances from the cast with Sean Bean and Lenny Harris leading the way and Sean Harris serving as the powder keg wild card of the bunch. Danny Dyer reprises almost the exact same role he played in last year’s ‘Closure’ as the whimpish dude who comes back hard in the end and he plays it to good effect. The films conclusion seemed a bit odd and out of place in that this was a movie grounded in stark reality and then to have its finale turn into some kind of homage to ‘The Dirty Dozen’ or something just didn’t flow right. Then there was the final scene which had me asking all kinds of questions as to things a mob boss probably should have some underling take care of, but that’s just me.

‘Outlaw’ is a decent film that is certainly worth watching, however it seemed to suffer from a narrative that lacked focus in certain areas and attempted to straddle a line in the middle of the road between right and wrong that didn’t work all that well from my vantage point. Still not all that bad, but it looked as if it could have been much better.

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