A mafia film worth seeing – shocking!
This once great genre has morphed into a mob torture method in recent years: John Travolta in Gotti, Tom Hardy in Capone, the entire movie The Kitchen.
Running time: 105 minutes. Rated R (voice throughout and some gory violence). In theatres.
You wouldn’t think a humble little film like The Outfit would reverse the downward trend, but writer/director Graham Moore’s film wakes us up like we’re being forcibly thrown into the Hudson at gunpoint.
The main character, Leonard (Mark Rylance), isn’t even American – he’s a friendly British suitmaker (he finds the word “tailor” demeaning) who moved to Chicago in the 1940s under mysterious circumstances.
Leonard is gentle and perceptive; an attentive listener who can sense what the perfect coat is for each unique personality.
But there’s a dark side to his crisp navy suits too. Leonard’s bespoke shop is used for the local crime boss’s (Simon Russell Beale) backroom deals, which he allows as long as he and his receptionist Mabel (Zoey Deutch) are protected.
One night, the boss’s son, Richie (Dylan O’Brien) and Capo Francis (Johnny Flynn) burst in. Richie has been shot in the stomach by a rival gang and Leonard is hired by Francis to protect a briefcase containing a tape recording of a rat babbling about its misdeeds.
What unfolds has more in common with a British crime thriller than with Goodfellas. The story itself isn’t fun, but it’s lively and engaging. They keep guessing who the rat might be and what their motives are. “Clue” with sages.
Rylance has played many important roles on stage (he has won three Tony Awards) but has typically been a supporting actor on screen. So it’s a pleasure to see him focus for once. Leonard harnesses one of Rylance’s greatest strengths – the ability to instantly transition from weak to strong. There is wildness behind every tiny smile.
The supporting cast are all play, especially the rowdy Flynn and the accomplished Deutch. Beale’s Chicago accent is a little shaky, but it’s not the “SNL” “Da Bears” skit, so who cares?
It’s just such a relief to see a gangster movie that I don’t want to fiddle with right away.