I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!
1 Hour and 45 Minutes
Johnathan McClain and Graham Moore
“You got the ‘fits, You got the flow. You got the 808, You got the Xan’d out tempo!”- Weird Little Flute.
If you read the basic description of the crime drama thriller (sort of) filmed play The Outfit, it might read like a Guy Ritchie movie by way of 50’s Chicago. If that makes you watch The Outfit then you could think of it as a Guy Ritchie movie but without Jason Statham, actual character development, set in one primary location, and—
Okay. This is about as far from a Guy Ritchie movie as it gets.
That’s a good thing.
Be warned, those of you who like your crime dramas with quick cutting, bullets flying and “clever” dialogue will be very disappointed with The Outfit. Fair warning
The Outfit opens in 1956 Chicago. We hear a voice-over from Leonard (Oscar Winner Mark Rylance- Ready Player One, The BFG) as he begins to tell us in detail how he goes about making a suit for a specific individual. That reads as boring. Granted, some of it is but it shows the kind of exacting (but quiet) man Leonard radiates to his customers. He’s Chicago’s best tailor by way of Saville Row.
Leonard has a receptionist Mable (Zoey Deutch-Zombieland Double Tap) who looks like she might be his daughter but isn’t. She’s doing her best to get out of Chicago and then travel the world. And just in case the old-timey clothes and hats didn’t let you know we’re back in time, there’s a character named Mable that’s under 80 years old.
Leonard goes about his business cutting suits all day. He’s a cutter, NOT a f*cking tailor as he will say repeatedly over the course of the movie. He’s the best cutter in Chicago.
Leonard’s shop also plays host to some of the more law-breaking factions of the societal structure. Every day men in tailored suits and guns in their pockets go to Leonard’s shop to drop off envelopes and to pick up envelopes and check their prostrate and set up speakeasies and race for pinks and smoke while pregnant and whatever else people did in the 50s.
Leonard knows that shady things are going on in his place of business, but he knows not to ask specific questions. Leonard knows the price of doing business in Chicago.
Leonard is aware enough that he supplies most of the tailored suits and party favors to the Boyle crime family. In fact, the head of the Boyles, Roy “Portly Mandy” Boyle (Simon Russell Beale) was his first customer when he came over from England. Roy’s been doing legitimate and underhanded and then overhanded business with Leonard’s shop ever since. Leonard just does his job cutting fabric and occasionally puncturing the genitals of Roy’s henchman while he measures them for the suits they will be buried in.
Today, one of Roy’s top lieutenants Francis “Adele” Leggings (Johnny Flynn) and Roy’s own son Richie “Roy’s Son” Boyle (Dylan O’Brien from those YA Maze Runner movies) are here to pick up a very specific envelope.
An envelope that may involve The Outfit. The Outfit is Chicago’s most powerful crime syndicate, and they’ve gotten their feelers out for the Boyle crew. If The Outfit deems the Boyles worthy, then the Boyles will have the backing of The Avengers of Chicago crime. They would be able to go to all the exclusive openings of clubs, online passcodes to special merch only members of The Outfit can buy, like an outfit with the words “The Outfit” stenciled right on it but it’s something you can only wear at home because you don’t want to go out in public wearing something like that because you will get arrested and then get kicked out and lose all your Outfit privileges.
All this is within the Boyle’s grasp…
Except there’s a rat within the organization. Someone’s been reporting to the FBI the Boyle gang’s every move. But if the authorities were to put the heat on the Boyles, then The Outfit would lose all interest in the Boyle gang and then just watch the gangs from West Side Story sing-fight and then dance.
It’s up to Francis and Richie to find out who the mole is. It’s up to Leonard to keep his eyes open and his mouth shut, lest anyone think that he’s the mole. Because it’s not.
Unless it is.
Or maybe that’s what Leonard wants you to think
What Works With The Outfit
- Not since Phantom Thread have clothes look so good onscreen. Granted, some of them end up splattered with blood in some scenes, but you can just wash that off with some paint thinner.
- Oscar-Winner Mark Rylance plays things close to the vest as a buttoned up cutter who never says more than he needs to but sees everything. If you’re a fan of the genre, you might think you know where Leonard will end up. You might be right in some small respects, but you’ll be wrong in all the ones that matter.
- Never has the shot of a jacket gotten so many gasps from an audience. Someone even had cardiac arrest but luckily no one thought to stop the screening because we all voted to call an ambulance after the movie. RIP Glen.
- Despite taking place in mostly one location, director and co-writer Graham “Gimme” Moore makes things as visually interesting as possible so you’re never focused on the fact that you’ve really never left a building for most of the movie. You’re too busy paying attention to the well-written characters and sharp dialogue.
What Doesn’t Work With The Outfit
- Dylan O’Brien’s awful Chicago accent is the only thing that takes you out of the movie on a consistent basis. You expect to get used to it after a while, but every time Maze Runner opens his mouth it’s an ice pick to your ears.
If you were forced to sit through that Sonic The Hedgehog sequel, then this might be an appropriate tonic to wash that taste out of your mouth and any other cracks and crevices that movie may still be lingering in. But if you like old white men and one white woman wearing tailored suits and talking about making tailored suits and then actually making tailored suits, then this movie might just (out)fit your needs. One of the best films of the early part of 2022. That’s really qualified and specific but accurate.