The Outfit (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – An expert cutter must outwit a dangerous group of mobsters in order to survive a fateful night.

My Take – While the world is filled with an abundance of gangster flicks, what makes this directorial debut from Graham Moore, who picked up an Oscar for his work on the screenplay of The Imitation Game (2014), immediately stand out is that it is set entirely in one location, a tailor’s shop, and features only a handful of characters, who amusingly have to work their way through a bunch of twists and counter-twists.

Co-written with Johnathan McClain (Mad Men, 24), here, director Moore throws in a twist almost every other minute, points fingers in every direction and puts a gun to just about everyone’s head, genuinely raising the tension in each act, and unfurls secrets in an intimate, simply presented fashion.

Sure, being a single-location suspense thriller, the film does feel undeniably stagey, however, it makes up for it with snappy dialogue, intriguingly layered characters, and some truly satisfying thrills. Moving at a rapid pace, and anchored by an inscrutably quiet lead performance from Mark Rylance, there is no denying that the film is consistently entertaining ride throughout.

Set in 1956 Chicago, the story follows Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance), a polite English cutter who runs a gentlemen outfitters, where he’s assisted by a receptionist named Mable (Zoey Deutch), who longs for better things. Being located in a neighborhood controlled by the Irish Mob, most of Leonard’s customers are gangsters, who also use his back room as a place for trading messages via a humble letter box.

However, a very complicated situation begins when Richie (Dylan O’Brien), the son of the local Mob boss, Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale), comes in with a bullet-wound, and his surly deputy, Francis (Johnny Flynn), both spinning a story about a treacherous mole, who has made them a target of the FBI and the rival LaFontaine family headed by Violet LaFontaine (Nikki Amuka-Bird), with an audio tape being the proof. What follows is a murder, backstabbing, and a growing number of suspects.

The contained film very much has the feeling of a stage play and is carefully shaped around Leonard’s mindset. Director Moore’s writing skill shines through for much of the film and there is really only one set in which everything happens. Just like one of Leonard’s suits, we watch many separate characters, clues, and revelations harmoniously come together as one, and we’re constantly left guessing who the rat is, and who really has control over the situation.

The film also balances itself out with its character moments. For example, the opening act establishes the relationship between Leonard and Mabel, who share a conversation filled with fascinating subtext. The film sets up their professional relationship with hints of how their life experiences have shaped their perception of the other.

And now in this situation, Leonard basically has to outwit them at every twist and turn, to not only save his life but also that of Mabel. In a film of loaded revolvers and trigger-happy gangsters, Leonard is forced to talk his way out of situations, and you never know what he will say next. This creates a palpable tension that makes the film quite engaging.

Yes, due to their desire to keep the film constantly entertaining and unpredictable as possible, director Moore and McClain pack too many moments into its third act that not only fail to be as surprising as some of the film‘s earlier twists but also end up being more confusing than awe-inspiring.

Nevertheless, as a directorial debut the film is an overall success. There are some well-edited sequences and is backed by some really good performances.

Mark Rylance is truly the best thing about the film, as he provides a solid center with a typically calm, coolly composed, quietly spoken performance, often giving us an opaque and unnerving twinkle of mischief. The English actor navigates his character’s various layers and lies with expert precision, always doing just enough to let us know when Leonard has a new trick up his sleeve without ever overly telegraphing what he’s going to do next.

Johnny Flynn is properly menacing as a mob enforcer who finds himself sharing a number of deadly secrets with Rylance’s Leonard, and Dylan O’Brien brings the right level of petulance and arrogance to his performance as Richie, a gangster desperate to prove that he’s worthy of becoming boss one day.

Zoey Deutch also does a superb job of eliciting emotions as she switches unpredictably till the end. Simon Russell Beale is both menacing and effortlessly believable. Sadly, Nikki Amuka-Bird doesn’t get much of screen time to excel completely. On the whole, ‘The Outfit’ is a well-tailored single location gangster flick that is both twisty and enjoyable.

Directed –

Starring – Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien

Rated – R

Run Time – 105 minutes

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