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The Outfit Movie Review

The Outfit (2022) movie poster
The Outfit

Theatrical Release: March 18, 2022 / Running Time: 106 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Graham Moore / Writers: Jonathan McClain, Graham Moore

Cast: Mark Rylance (Leonard), Zoey Deutch (Mable), Dylan O'Brien (Richie), Johnny Flynn (Francis), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Violet), Simon Russell Beale (Roy), Alan Mehdizadeh (Monk)


Mark Rylance’s background in theatre makes him the perfect choice to star in The Outfit. This single-setting drama becomes the first film to give Rylance top billing and it’s the perfect vehicle for his talents.
The 62-year-old actor, best known by movie lovers for a trio of Steven Spielberg films (Ready Player One, The BFG, and Bridge of Spies, which won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) and Netflix’s widely seen current Best Picture nominee Don’t Look Up, commands the screen as a polite Englishman with a passion for making men’s suits. He is a cutter, not a tailor, a distinction he makes at least as often as his Bridge of Spies character asked Tom Hanks' lawman “would it help?”

On a cold December’s night in 1950s Chicago, Leonard goes about his business constructing a new suit. His opening and recurrent narration details the different steps that go into the process, from making measurements to using his trusted old shears to precisely cut the fabric. Leonard’s shop has long been used by a local crime organization, although he makes a point not to get involved with the activity or the dangerous men who pass correspondence in the box on the wall in his tidy workspace.

Leonard’s ability to keep a personal distance from these men he regularly dresses and allows to use his place of business gets put to the test on a night when two of the men -- boss’s son Richie (Dylan O’Brien) and the shifty Francis (Johnny Flynn) -- are tasked with uncovering the rat within their ranks.

The specifics of the unseen criminal enterprises in question are not particularly interesting to us or the two men who wrote the screenplay, American actor Jonathan McClain, making his film writing debut, and the UK’s Graham Moore, making both his directing debut and his overdue follow-up to his Oscar-winning screenplay for 2014’s The Imitation Game.

Mark Rylance stars as a cutter named Leonard in "The Outfit" (2022).

Moore and McClain are able to build suspense without ever leaving Leonard’s high end shop. Our attentions are held and intrigued by the complicated dynamics and twisted loyalties of Leonard,
Richie, Francis and others including Richie’s father (Simon Russell Beale) and Leonard’s likable daughter-like receptionist Mable (Zoey Deutch) who turn up as the long night progresses.

The Outfit feels like an agreeable piece of entertainment that is inspired and not restricted by pandemic rules limiting travel and interaction. But it was actually shot last year and not during the more restrictive early phases of COVID lockdowns.

Without ever approaching the heights of the classics that the subject matter inevitably evokes, from the obvious (The Godfather and various Martin Scorsese works) to the less sacred but still great (Road to Perdition and Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables), The Outfit never lets you down or insults your intelligence with all the twists it throws your way. It comes close in the increasingly implausible crescendoes of its final act, but the whole thing is brisk and buoyant enough that you never cringe.

Rylance expectedly shines, convincing you of his ability to disarm despite the avuncular goodness he radiates. That’s good news for us, for he commands the most screentime by far here, but somewhat bad news for the rest of the cast, none of whom comes close to matching his quiet intensity and unpredictability.

The Outfit joins the recent Death on the Nile as the rare bit of new cinema aimed squarely at adults. It lacks the big budget splendor and better commercial prospects of that Agatha Christie mystery but still produces a similar effect with a story that may not surprise you as much as it wants but does a decent job of respecting you and not leaving you bored.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: MasterDeath on the NileThe Batman
Mark Rylance: Bridge of SpiesThe BFGReady Player One
Written by Graham Moore: The Imitation Game

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Reviewed March 23, 2022.

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