Outside the Wire parents guide

Outside the Wire Parent Guide

This tries to be a thought-provoking thriller but its special effects are dicey and the plot strays into silliness too often.

Overall C-

Netflix: Former drone pilot Lt. Thomas Harp has been reassigned for disobeying orders. His new commander, Captain Leo, is more than meets the eye: a secret prototype android with advanced combat programming, Captain Leo has big plans that now involve Harp.

Release date January 15, 2021

Violence D
Sexual Content A
Profanity D
Substance Use A

Why is Outside the Wire rated R? The MPAA rated Outside the Wire R for strong violence and language throughout.

Run Time: 114 minutes

Parent Movie Review

In the not-so-distant future, a terrifying civil war has erupted in Europe. Pro-Russian secessionist forces have broken into open conflict with a scattered resistance movement, bolstered by a unilateral American occupation. Drone pilot Lt. Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), flying a mission in support of a platoon of Marines in Ukraine, finds himself in serious trouble for disobeying direct orders after firing without authorization. Now reassigned to the front, Harp finds himself under the command of Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie): But Leo isn’t like any commanding officer Harp has ever met. He’s a prototypical, highly advanced military robot, and on a mission outside the wire, Harp finds that Leo might just have an agenda of his own…

Outside the Wire is a little clumsy. It’s trying to be a thought-provoking action thriller, but The Bourne Identity this ain’t. The special effects are a dicey at times, and the plot wobbles between interesting and fairly silly. However, the stunt work is pretty good (it’s not like Anthony Mackie doesn’t have some serious experience from his role as Falcon in the Marvel superhero films).

The movie does, however, come with a laundry list of content concerns, most egregious of which are the 97 extreme profanities. There’s also rather a lot of violence – which I did anticipate, this being an action flick. People are shot, blown up, thrown off buildings, and in one particularly unpleasant scene, shot and tortured for information before being beaten to death with sticks. On the plus side, there is literally no sexual content and not so much as a reference to drugs or alcohol. With an “R” rating, they could have gotten away with a lot more, and I’m glad they didn’t. I was busy enough just counting the swear words without having to track a bunch of lascivious alcoholism.

While this production doesn’t exactly illustrate Dwight D. Eisenhower’s prophetic warning about the military industrial complex, it does raise some important issues. From critiques of America’s drone strike policies to concerns about militarized artificial intelligence, Outside the Wire manages to be a vehicle for some serious questions – it’s just couched in two hours of violent, profanity-riddled, Cold-War era paranoia. Which, if I’m being honest, is still kind of fun.

Directed by Mikael Håfström. Starring Anthony Mackie, Pilou Asbæk, Emily Beecham. Running time: 114 minutes. Theatrical release January 15, 2021. Updated

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Outside the Wire
Rating & Content Info

Why is Outside the Wire rated R? Outside the Wire is rated R by the MPAA for strong violence and language throughout.

Violence: Dozens of individuals are shot and killed. Many are also killed in explosions. Several are beaten to death or thrown from great heights to their deaths. A scene shows a man being tortured for information.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are 97 uses of extreme profanity, 19 uses of scatological profanity, and occasional uses of minor profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.

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Outside the Wire Parents' Guide

The use of military drones has been a controversial subject. What are some of the advantages? Why does the US military use them so frequently? What are the downsides of their use? What are the consequences on the ground of such indiscriminate bombing? What have the civilian casualty rates been like?

AI is another difficult issue. How much can we trust artificial intelligence? How much do these programs reflect the values of the people who create them? Is it even ethical to create an intelligence like this? What are some of the potential consequences?

Home Video

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This film borrows heavily from the plot of Training Day, and aesthetically from The Edge of Tomorrow. Other futuristic action thrillers include Elysium, Minority Report, and Gemini Man. For a more serious look at the ethics of drone strikes, Eye in the Sky is an excellent choice. Discussions of US military policy, especially unilateral action, are important parts of both The Post and Official Secrets.