The Outfit REVIEW – Doesn’t Cut Deep Enough

Mark Rylance is a joy to watch, but the film itself is quite a mixed bag.

The Outfit
The Outfit

Mark Rylance’s Leonard, commonly referred to as ‘English’ in the course of the film, is a quiet, unassuming man with a passion for suit making. He also insists that we call him a cutter, not a tailor. The film begins with him narrating the process of how to put together a suit, and how he makes clothes that would fit a man physically as well as in personality. After all, if clothes are what we project about ourselves to the world, Leonard desires to make sure that the projection as authentic as possible to who the man is.

The closest thing he has to family is Mable (Zoey Deutch) his receptionist, but she isn’t intent on staying long. From the moment we meet her she’s already dreaming of leaving, seeing the world for herself, not content with the mere glimpses she gets from the snow globes of famous places she collects.

While Leonard wishes to stay out the affairs of local mobsters, he has no choice given how they control everything, and has to let his shop be used as a space for drop-offs. From time to time we see sketchy men enter the shop and deposit packages in the mailbox at the back of the shop, and the mobster’s son Richie (Dylan O’Brien) and his right-hand man Francis (Johnny Flynn) will come in to empty the box as and when they please.

Things take a turn one day when they receive a tape that will point them in the direction of the rat who’s been selling them out to their rival. Before the tape can be played, Richie and Francis are involved in a shoot-out, leaving the pair with no choice but to seek refuge in Leonard’s shop. So the man becomes involved in the whole situation despite wanting to stay out of things. As the night unfolds, Leonard’s shop becomes a revolving door: fingers get pointed, people get shot, and we start to understand that sometimes the clothes mask rather than reveal.

Rylance is truly the best thing about this movie. He delivers an incredible performance, from meek and twitchy to confident and smug – it’s so wonderful to watch him strut his acting chops in a leading role. Deutch, while competent, isn’t given much to do as Mable. She’s not in the film much, and doesn’t embody the sides of the character in a way that makes much impact.

It’s great to see O’Brien in films again, and he does well in portraying the cocky, arrogant Richie. Teen Wolf fans will know that O’Brien is able to play the bad guy very well, but much like Deutch, his character here is barely sketched out, so there’s nothing really memorable acting-wise.

Flynn’s a pretty good actor. I enjoyed his version of Mr. Knightley in 2020’s Emma, and while Stardust was critically panned, it had more to do with the source material than with Flynn’s performance. Just like with Deutch and O’Brien, the film really didn’t give him much to work with, and I wish we saw more menace instead of mild exasperation.

The structure of the film is meant to create mounting tension, since there’s all this back and forth about the rat, which is done to facilitate guesswork from the viewer. However, tension is only possible if there are certain stakes, and throughout the film, I was never afraid for Leonard. The Outfit never allows him to be in proper danger, and yes, there’s an explanation for this, but it isn’t as clever as the film seems to think.

The Outfit has a good cast, but the screenplay is a bit underwhelming and overall it ends up more mediocre than outstanding, which is a crying shame.

Review screener provided.

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The Outfit
Verdict
The most memorable thing about The Outfit is Mark Rylance's performance. Every single thing is built around that, and the man delivers. Everything else, however, is a bit underwhelming and mediocre.
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