Today: May 27, 2024

The Outfit

Having won the 2015 Oscar in Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game Graham Moore now turns his hand to directing. And like his Oscar winning efforts The Outfit has a well-spoken protagonist, a finely tuned period setting and an interestingly, character driven thriller that is never quite what it seems.

Set in 1950s Chicago Leonard (Mark Rylance) is a “cutter” – a former Saville Row suit maker. And while he takes great pride in finessing his craft his main clientele are the local gangsters. Using his shop as a safe-house for their ill-gotten gains Leonard turns a blind eye until one night when local mob boss son Richie (Dylan O’Brien) and enforcer Francis (Johnny Flynn) crash in with a bullet in one and a valuable case being carried by the other. Before long Leonard finds himself embroiled in mob politics while trying to protect himself and his secretary Mable (Zoey Deutch).

All set in the single location of Leonard’s shop, The Outfit – see what they did with the title? – is a crisp, tight thriller that keeps the interest peaked throughout. Moore’s direction is never showy but staged in such a way as to keep its characters front and center. Like Reservoir Dogs every character who arrives seems to harbor a secret that could derail everyone’s mission.

Throughout you know there are things lurking beneath the surface but it’s not one of those films that asks you to second guess it. Everything unfolds in a delicately organic way. For those who have seen 2014’s brilliant The Drop there are echoes of this here. If it does stutter it is only at the end when it reveals one twist too many.

The cast are all solid in their roles with O’Brien and Flynn working well as local hoods while Deutch is a wonderful dame with just enough moxie to make her a suspect in conspiracy. But the film belongs to Rylance. His delicate, understated delivery is utterly hypnotic, even when talking about the intricacies of cutting a suit, you’re engrossed. That he goes from being timid to often the smartest man in the room only makes you delight when all around him are losing their heads and he remains as cool as the steel of his sheers.

A stage like thriller that never grips as much as it does effortlessly satisfy, The Outfit is by no means a perfect fit but it’s a damn good cut.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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