The concept of ‘The Outsider’ is a very interesting one, and partially why I was so drawn to the film in the first place. The film follows a former American GI by the name of Nick Lowell who joins the Yakuza, and that synopsis alone was enough to grab my attention.  The second reason was the fact it starred Jared Leto, as I believe he’s a very good actor based on his performances in ‘Requiem for a Dream’, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and ‘American Psycho’.

Coming into this film, I had incredibly high hopes and was expecting an afternoon of thrilling scenes and engaging characters.  As it was so easily accessible on Netflix, I also had no excuse to pass up the opportunity to get it watched. Unfortunately for me, I was left mostly disappointed by what ‘The Outsider’ delivered.

Running at 2 hours, it seems to drag on for much longer than that because the pacing of the film is poor. To be clear, I have no issue with films that have long runtimes provided they can make it work (‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, for example, runs at 3 hours yet seems to fly by), but this film has tedious scenes that simply didn’t do enough to hold my interest. They could’ve easily cut out half an hour’s worth of footage and still made the film work, in my opinion. It seems strange that a film about the Yakuza could be so boring, but sadly it was.

Jared Leto’s character, Nick, doesn’t have a clear backstory and because of this he’s a very uninteresting character. When we’re first introduced to him, I liked the fact he was such an enigma and assumed we’d learn more about him, but we never really do save for a few chunks of information scattered randomly throughout the narrative. As a Leto fan, I was disappointed that he didn’t really bring anything special to the role and literally any other actor could’ve taken his place and still delivered the same story.

The characters that Nick encounters throughout the film aren’t particularly noteworthy either, as they seem to exist to just berate Nick and frown at him, and not much happens beyond that. It seems very lazy that a film like ‘The Outsider’ has so many characters that are sloppily written, with no backstories to keep the audience interested.

‘The Outsider’ did have some redeeming features, though not enough for me to say I particularly enjoyed watching the film. There are a few gory, intense moments that hold your attention and make you squirm, but much less than I expected from a supposed crime film, especially one that focuses on such a notorious criminal organisation. Cinematically, it’s a decent film to look at based on the camerawork and colour grading throughout, but the absence of any decent story makes it fall flat.

Martin Zandvliet’s cinematic portrayal of the Japanese Yakuza is mediocre at best, and not what I expected based on the marketing I’d seen prior to watching the film. I wanted a violent, sexy, engaging crime film and got absolutely none of that.

Directed by: Martin Zandvilet
Stars: Jared Leto, Tadanobu Asano, Kippei Shîna