Mackie’s charisma can’t lift ‘Outside the Wire’


“Outside the Wire” is a sci-fi war movie that provides action, explosions, and a twist that I probably should have seen coming, but I missed thanks to all the explosions or dozing off too often.

The film stars and is produced by Anthony Mackie, who plays the Falcon or Sam Wilson in Marvel’s Avengers films. Mackie is an engaging performer who soon will be starring in his own Disney+ series “Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” starting March 19, but even he’s not charming enough to truly save this Netflix program set in the near future of 2036 where a pro-Russian insurgent attack on the Ukraine prompts the United States to deploy Marines and “Gumps” (robotic soldiers) as a peaceful-keeping force.

Against orders, Lt. Thomas Harp (Damson Idris) blasts drone missiles at a suspected enemy launcher. His gambit saves 38 Marines but leaves two dead. His punishment is being sent to Camp Nathaniel, a U.S. base in the Ukraine where he is assigned under the command of Capt. Leo (Mackie), who is an android super-soldier in the disguise of a human officer.

Under the guise of delivering vaccines to a refugee camp, Harp and Leo set out on a mission to prevent terrorist Victor Koval (Pilous Asbael) from taking over several Cold War-era nuclear missile silos that might still be armed.

Of course, there are a couple big fights with Leo and Harp both heroically accomplishing their tasks; however, one of the two has ulterior motives for what to do with those nuclear missiles for reasons that I won’t reveal in case someone cares to watch this film.

This movie is like most of your straight-to-Netflix movies. It is O.K. Mackie is engaging as Captain Leo, but he absolutely is the most entertaining aspect of this film that is derivative of better movies such as several of “The Terminator” films and “Chappy.”

It’s not a horrible movie to snooze through late at night or on a rainy day, but if you’re looking for a truly engaging cinematic experience, “Outside the Wire” just isn’t it.

(R) 1 hr. 54 min.
Grade: C

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Classic Corner – Young Man with a Horn (1950)

Warner Bros.

“Young Man with a Horn” may be the grittiest film director Michael Curtiz ever made, pitting good-girl Doris Day versus heartbreaker Lauren Bacall in a battle for the love and soul of jazz trumpeter Kirk Douglas in this 1950s effort at noir that’s a bit too melodramatic for it’s own good.

Douglas plays Rick, who grew up the hard way after his mother’s death. His salvation was a trumpet that he bought from wages earned working as a bowling alley attendant. Tutored by jazz man Art (Juano Hernandez), Rick learns to play well, maybe too well. He feels confined having to play note by note every night in a big band when he’d rather improvise. One night an impromptu jam session gets him tossed from the band for his impertinence.

Lovely singer Jo (Doris Day) has fallen for Rick. She and his pianist buddy Smoke (Hoagy Carmichael) are worried about him, and help find him an opportunity to play with a dance orchestra, where Rick captures the eye of Amy North (Bacall), a complicated gal, who is studying to be a psychiatrist when she ought to be seeing one.

Much to the chagrin of Jo, Rick falls for ice queen Amy and marries her before Jo is able to warn Rick off. Amy doesn’t get Rick’s music, and as both take to the bottle, they begin to fight. Rick still loves her, but Amy treats him as her whipping boy as her studies fall to pot. Often she never comes home at night.

When she admits that she only married Rick because she could not because she loves him, Rick’s alcoholism spirals out of control. Art attempts to reel him back to sanity, but when pushed away, Art is struck by a car and eventually dies, leaving Rick more torn apart than ever.

Fired from another job, Rick is committed to an alcoholic sanitarium. Suffering from pneumonia, Smoke has him moved to a hospital where Jo is able to look after him. As he recovers, Rick and Jo’s love for music binds them together for a happy ending that seems sort of a copout for an otherwise bleak film.

While the film’s plot is a bit mechanical, it’s hard not to appreciate the star power of Douglas, Bacall, and Day, who each deliver compelling performances. Carmichael’s charisma is undeniable and his presence lends the film an air of authenticity that’s hard to resist. Famed trumpeter Harry James preformed the music Douglas is shown playing on screen, and it truly is the highlight of the film that’s loosely based on the tragic life of jazz player Bix Beiderbecke.

The movie plays 3:30 a.m.Tuesday on Turner Classic Movies. So stay up late, get up early, or just set your DVR.