Jared Leto's new yakuza thriller The Outsider is 'a culturally insensitive disaster' say critics

Ben Arnold
The Outsider, starring Jared Leto (Credit: Netflix)

After a string of misses, Jared Leto desperately needs a hit – but sadly his new movie The Outsider probably isn’t it.

Directed by Martin Zandvliet for Netflix, and set post-World War II, it finds the Suicide Squad star playing Nick Lowell, a former POW who is freed thanks to his cellmate, who happens to be yakuza, Japan’s organised crime syndicate.

To repay his debt and earn the respect of the yakuza, he embarks on a journey into the criminal underworld.

It’s already been accused of white-washing by casting an American caucasian actor in the lead role, but it appears the results may not have silenced critics.

Indiewire calls it ‘100 percent horrendous’.

“Viewers conversant in Yakuza classics will roll their eyes at the protracted scenes of Leto chopping off his own pinkies in shame, while newcomers to the genre will find plenty of their own reasons to be bored stiff.

“The more this film begs to be told from the inside out, the more Zandvliet shoots it from the outside in. It’s enough to make you wish he hadn’t shot it at all,” continues David Erlich.

The Guardian, in a one-star notice, writes: “These films give lip service to a faux reverence for their subjects, but then reduce them to a collection of signifiers and monolithic character types before placing them in a position of inferiority to the white interloper.

“In its obsession with all things Japanese, the film places a special emphasis on the quality of humility. Nevertheless, the story ends with an elite corps of Asian assassins bowing to the former frontman for 30 Seconds to Mars.”

AV Club calls it ‘beat for beat, one of the most tediously generic yakuza stories imaginable’.

Really going to town, The Daily Beast reckons it’s ‘a culturally insensitive disaster’.

“Even in some of the most critically maligned of Netflix’s original output thus far I’ve found something to like, but The Outsider is bafflingly bad on every level,” they go on.

Following the wholesale critical maulings of Will Smith vehicle Bright, another misstep featuring a A-list star, Cloverfield spin-off The Cloverfield Paradox, and Duncan Jones’ ambitious new sci-fi movie Mute, Netflix may be in the market for a little soul searching.

The Outsider is unleashed on the streaming service from March 9.

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