Outrage Movie Review
Review by Nathan Samdahl (C+)
Murder. If you want to see the film with the most consecutive scenes featuring a murder, Outrage is your film. That stat may be exaggerated, but I can think of few others that rival the last 30 to 40 minutes of this Japanese crime thriller. Unfortunately, just as the dice-dance move was all Seth Rogen had in Knocked Up, Outrage seems to deliver a lot of violence and not much else.
Going into Outrage I knew little about it except that it was a film about the Yakuza. And that it would be violent. The first half hour or so is pleasing enough, delivering some slick tracking shots and interesting character introductions, which were helpful since there are a confusingly large amount of Yakuza clans warring it out at once.
As the film progressed, though, I wondered when the real substance of the story would reveal itself. Which protagonist would emerge that the audience could embrace? Would an interesting story arc arise?
The movie is about a bunch of Yakuza mobsters all vying for the top spot in the family. Did I like any of them in particular? Not really. Was one more interesting than another? Not so much. Thematically, too, the cyclical nature of violence is hammered home so constantly throughout the film it becomes tiresome. I've seen this done so many times before, in much more engaging ways.
When asked why director Takeshi Kitano wanted to return to making a Yakuza movie (his last film on the subject was 2000's Brother), his response was "simply that I wanted to. I found it amusing and interesting before and I had not made one in a while." This is a little troublesome for me. If Scorsese wants to return and make another gangster flick, that's awesome, but it better be because he found an incredible story to make. By Kitano's own accord, it seems like this is just another movie for him.
That may be an unfair assessment - no film really needs to exist - but I've always admired directors who "needed" to make a movie rather than "could" make one.
Outrage is certainly chock-full of Kitano's trademark realistic violence. If you like hardcore violence, you will not be disappointed by the number of fingers cut off, chopsticks to the ear or people shot in the face. The story also works and makes sense - I wasn't scratching my head at any point. But the movie needed a little more emotion, character and heart... some reason to give Outrage meaning.
But the movie lacks those elements. Ultimately, if you love Japanese mob movies, then you'll probably enjoy Outrage, but for everyone else, there are better films to check out this holiday season.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.