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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Blu-ray Review
The Outsider  (2014)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
1.5 Stars
(Release Date: March 11, 2014) – Approximately a quarter of the 94-minute running time of "The Outsider" consists of stock aerial and traffic footage of Los Angeles, while the end credits state the film was "shot entirely in Baton Rouge, Louisiana." This is where the so-called "movie magic" begins and ends in a tepid, silly low-budget action pic that is never actually good but does hold one's attention—for better and worse. The film's poster artwork is the epitome of desperate exaggeration, complete with James Caan wielding a rifle he never actually holds in the finished product surrounded by fiery destruction and choppers flying through the city skies that never appear. The tagline—"Outgunned. Outnumbered. Out for blood."—is decidedly inaccurate, while the very title is arbitrary.

Craig Fairbass (2008's "The Bank Job") stars as Lex Walker, a British military contractor who rightfully abandons his Afghanistan post to travel to Los Angeles and identify his grown daughter when she is found murdered. After discovering the body is not Samantha's (Melissa Ordway), Lex sets out to track down her whereabouts and smoke out the people responsible for her disappearance. His investigation leads him to the shady Schuuster (James Caan), Sam's former boss, and bar waitress Margo (Shannon Elizabeth), willing to help him in exchange for a promised $10,000 reward.

Directed by Brian A. Miller (who never saw a horizontal lens flare he didn't like), "The Outsider" is best in its first half when Lex is still trying to get to the bottom of where his missing daughter is, then promptly curdles with clunky writing and lots of wheel-spinning once the core conspiracy is revealed. It goes down, down, down from there as the body count left in Lex's wake is tidily swept under the rug and a ridiculous slow-motion happy ending and last-minute romance aspire unwanted laughs. Craig Fairbass is physically believable kicking butt, less so when he has to emote, while James Caan (2012's "That's My Boy"), Shannon Elizabeth (2012's "American Reunion") and Jason Patric (2010's "The Losers"), as the detective assigned to the case, are aware they have all seen better days career-wise. "The Outsider" embraces its disposable B-movie leanings, but remains mediocre even under these modest prospects.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

The 1080p transfer of "The Outsider" is erratic. At times, it is strikingly appealing, the image achieving dynamic dimensionality. Details are impressive, with every pore and line on the actors' faces in clear view. Look closer, and a few flaws rear their ugly heads, from egregious moiré in blinds and other background patterns, occasionally grayish black levels and a few errant examples of edge enhancement. On the upside, banding is virtually nonexistent—especially impressive considering how many headlights and lens flares there are in every frame. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio gets the job done, but this is a remarkably unremarkable sonic experience, front-heavy and not nearly as immersive as one would expect from an action shoot-'em-up.

Blu-ray Features
There is no bonus content included on this disc.

Bottom Line
"The Outsider" received brief limited theatrical play, but will certainly work better on the home video market where viewers will generally be more forgiving of its uneven production values. Nonetheless, it's nothing special and at times quite amateurish. For hardcore action fans or those who like one of the main cast members, the Blu-ray of "The Outsider" is worth a rental at best. All others need not apply.

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© 2014 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman