- Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr.
- June 14, 2019
An Asian railroad worker finds himself being chased by a group of bigoted lawmen.
The core of the story of The Outsider revolves around racism. Specifically around the local Asian population. This is not a bad film but it’s a revisionist-lite movie. Everybody is one shade of bad or another but they’re not overwhelmingly terrible people. I am not big into that type of Western as I prefer the ones that mythologize the era.
Trace Adkins is perhaps one of the bigger names in this and he plays Marshal Walker. Walker is a religious man but he’s still willing to go out of his way to protect his raping son James (Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau) whose sexual assault and eventual murder of a local Asian woman is what sends Jing Phang (Jon Foo), the individual that should be our central character, on his murderous rampage of vengeance.
Like I said you would think Jing Phang would be the central character but there doesn’t seem to be a strong central character in this film in any sense. Or even main characters. There’s Jing Phang and Marshal Walker and his son James and they share equal time. Heck even Chris King (Sean Patrick Flanery), the tracker that gets brought into the story midway, gets a fair share of time.
And that’s part of the problem. The narrative has no focus. It tries to cover several different stories in 90 minutes. And it never really gels around anything. Is the focus of the story what happened to the man’s wife and his quest to get revenge? Is the focus of the story the marshal and his protection of his son from an apparent history of terrible things? Or is it the son and his ever-increasing list of horrible actions and his anger towards his father? I don’t know and neither did those behind this film.
The thing is there is enough good here that the movie is close to something special, but it doesn’t quite get there because there are so many things it is trying to juggle. There are only 90 minutes and it needed to pick one. The rest could’ve been lingering in the background and part of main narrative. But director Woodward wanted his cake and to eat it too.
The cast here is a solid cast that can deliver. I really wish some time had been taken out to polish the script one more time. Still though I enjoyed it. Dialogue was good and the performances strong and it worked good for a lower budget Western. I’m not sure it’s something I will revisit soon but I enjoyed it.
The Outsider is a mild revisionist Western that doesn’t quite gel. It has good performances and a good script and the direction isn’t bad but it never quite comes together. I recommend this for diehard Western fans but for the general movie going audience you can move on. If Westerns aren’t your thing there is nothing here for you.