“An expert cutter must outwit a dangerous group of mobsters in order to survive a fateful night.”

Director: Graham Moore
Writers: Graham Moore, Johnathan McClain
Staring: Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, John Gumley-Mason, Johnny Flynn
Release Date: March 18, 2022

Leonard (Mark Rylance) is a quiet cutter in the quietness of snowy Chicago who runs his own shop with his assistant Mable (Zoey Deutch). Set during the mid 1950s, Leonard and Mable must deal with some rather unseemly figures of the mafia, but there is a mutual respect between all parties that business is not to be discussed or interfered with.

Leonard has a mailbox in the back of his shop that Richie (Dylan O’Brien) and Francis (Johnny Flynn) frequent often as emissaries for the more important individuals, like Roy (Simon Russell Beale), who is Richie’s father. All things are going smoothly until the young men discover an envelope in their mailbox with the mark of “The Outfit” on it. This marking is a distinguishing emblem of an elevated criminal underworld. One that you must earn the respect of to get communication.

The shit hits the fan when Richie and Francis get in a bit of a scuffle at Leonard’s shop. Distrust is sewn into their relationship and with temperatures reach a boiling point, only the flash and threat of a gun is satisfactory.

Spoiler alert below for those who don’t want to know the entire plot of The Outfit.

Mark Rylance as Leonard

Francis kills Richie in cold blood in Leonard’s shop. This complicates many things because Richie was the love interest of Mable, and also the son of Roy. Francis, who was the adopted son of Roy, pulled the trigger with ideals of rising the ranks. He did not anticipate having to play hide-and-seek with a body, nor did he anticipate having to play verbal chess with Leonard, Roy, and others.

After the death of Richie, Leonard finds himself in the middle of a very precarious situation. When Roy and other threatening people visit his shop over the course of the evening, Leonard is tossed around like a tennis ball in the middle of an epic Wimbeldon rally. He has to bounce off the vibes of Francis and his itchy trigger figure, Roy and his calm but demanding presence, and Mable trying to understand everything happening. Nothing is an easy decision and a man of little visible gravitas has to try and navigate an ever changing labyrinth.

Francis (Johnny Flynn) and Roy (Simon Russell Beale)

The way The Outfit is told is remarkable. It is like you are watching a stage play performed by more than worthy actors. One setting stories benefit from the confines of its surroundings. It forces the performers to develop chemistry with one another and it demands that the dialogue be charred with layers of meaning and nuance. Writer and director Graham Moore, and fellow writer Johnathan McClain worked together a wonderful script that allowed their performers to chew up the scenary.

Mark Rylance is good. He is just really good. Rylance has to be an expect poker player because he is excellent in conveying his power in the quiet moments. His portrayal of Leonard is plodding; his character is excellent at making visitors feel at home in his own shop. Mable even takes Richie to the shop after a night out together. It is a safe space for her and it is a trusted space for the mafia. Leonard has the majesty that can lull anyone into a false sense of security.

Rylance has won one Academy Award back in 2016 for Bridge Of Spies (2015), and he was worthy of nomination for his effort as the lawyer in The Trail Of The Chicago 7 (2020). Rylance is highly regarded for his screen acting, but he has had more recognition for his stage work. He won the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1994 for his performance in Much Ado About Nothing. He won the same award, and the London Critics Circle Theatre Award in 2002 for his efforts in Twelfth night. On this shot of the pond, Rylance has won two Tony Awards for Boeing-Boeing and Jerusalem.

So yea, Mark Rylance is a good actor. It makes all the sense in the world that he chewed up the screenplay for The Outfit.

Side note, I love that on IMDB on his “Trade Marks” list it says that he is fond of wearing hat indoors. Hilarious.

Zoey Deutch as Mable

Zoey Deutch and Dylan O’Brien are partners in The Outfit, and it is not the only time this year they are sharing the screen with one another. Not Okay (2022) came out on Hulu recently, and it will be watched eventually, but for now it is time to size up how they did in The Outfit.

I am buying Deutch stock. Ever since she popped up on Set It Up (2018), I have been in distant love with her. Flower (2017) was a very strange movie, but she was the best part of it. Most people know her as Madison from Zombieland: Double Tap (2019), but this version of her in The Outfit is the one I like the most. Mable is very independent women who is tired of being stuck in her position. She has a potential flowering romance with Richie, but the only thing she wants to see flourish is her own success. There is an act that Mable commits in The Outfit that is wonderfully foreshadowed and illuminated by Leonard with oozing calm. Rylance is able to communicate quiet confidence, and Deutch is able to communicate quiet aspiration.

The only actor that I didn’t love in The Outfit is Dylan O’Brien. It is hard to buy his pretty boy persona as a mob member. His clean dress, unscarred face and effortless smile all make him look like a toddler walking around in high school.

Is someone screaming that this was the point of Richie’s character? “He is the spoiled son of a mob boss. He is meant to look that way.”

Fine, I can get that argument, but i would like to rebuttal. Richie does not act out as the spoiled son of the crime lord. Instead, he acts like a young man who wants respect and is frustrated by his friend, Francis. He sees his friend, and adapted brother, as a road block in his employment hierarchy. I don’t think McMahon brought enough exasperation regarding his status. If he injected a few more glares at Francis or let out a discontent sighs, it would have been easier to feel for him when his eventual fate is revealed.

Mark Rylance, Johnny Flynn and Dylan O’Brien sharing the screen

Johnny Flynn is very good as the stubborn and spontaneous Francis. He has the scars, both emotionally and physically, to give him the edge a necessary wild card in a confined story needs. Francis is the one character in The Outfit that you can not predict what they are going to do. Leonard has a sense of morality that at least acts as a raked out hiking path to guide him. Roy has the love for his son, Mable has her desire to escape and Richie has the youthful childlike ambition. Francis has the same vision of escaping his current scenario of the other characters, but he is willing to take the extra steps no one else can.

The Outfit is a well crafted movie that is anchored by Rylance’s quietly confident performance. The quietest person in the room is pulling the string on all of his puppets, yet you are still rooting for him every step of the way. Rylance is able to lift the tide to carry all the performances around him. The Outfit flies by despite never changing setting and staying centered on one character’s perspective of the situation. Got get yourself fitted into your best comfy clothes and tune into The Outfit on Peacock.

STANKO RATING: B (3.5/5 Stars)

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