Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Outsider: Craig Fairbrass Gets His Close-Up

By now, there is little the L.A. coroner’s office can do to shock Americans with their incompetence. Yet, a British military contractor is still rather aghast when they misidentify a corpse as his estranged daughter. (Still, that sort of counts as good news.) He will be getting to the bottom of it all in Brian A. Miller’s The Outsider (trailer here), which releases this Friday in select theaters and on VOD.

Lex Walker was never much of a father, but when his receives news of Samantha’s presumed demise, he goes AWOL to tend to his grim paternal duties. However, the body might be a twentysomething blonde, but it is not her. Somewhat agitated, Walker heads straight to her last place of employment, a dodgy financial services conglomerate, where Schuster, the sleazy CEO does everything possible to announce himself as the bad guy short of standing on his head and spitting nickels.

When Walker takes good-and-hard exception to some of some of Schuster’s muscle on the way out, he naturally gets arrested, thereby putting him on the radar of Det. Klein, the cop in charge of Samantha Walker’s case. Of course, they do not get along either. Walker’s investigation only starts to get traction when he bribes a lead out of Margo, a reluctant cocktail waitress, who quickly becomes part of the mess, regardless of her intentions.

So when you see Shannon Elizabeth and James Caan lined up behind a film, you know you are in serious b-movie territory. Jason Patric still ought to have some major studio cred, but it is not exactly shocking to see him here as well. As it happens, they are all largely enlisted to support British character actor Craig Fairbrass’s coming out as an action star. Craggy and hardnosed, he has at least enough old school presence to carry a light weight film like The Outsider.

As Klein, the reliable Patric helps to anchor the film—and between him, Caan, and Fairbrass there is certainly no lack of manliness. Naturally, Caan plays the villainous Schuster, hamming it up at every opportunity, because viewers would be disappointed if he didn’t.  In contrast, the character of Margo is so under-written, Shannon Elizabeth mostly just stands around looking for something to do.

Considering most Americans will be most familiar with Fairbrass as one of the Call of Duty voice-actors, a straight up military film would have be a more logical vehicle for his premiere turn in the solo spotlight, but it probably would have been much more expense than a riff on the Taken franchise. The Eastenders and Prime Suspect alumnus has appealing working class badassness, but The Outsider is just too workaday to get very excited about.  It may herald the arrival of the next middle-aged action star, but The Outsider is best saved for Saturday morning hangover streaming.  For diehard fans of Fairbrass and Caan, it opens this Friday (2/7) in New York at the AMC Empire and also releases on itunes.