I noticed recently that The Outfit—a movie that came and went from movie theaters with virtually no fanfare this past spring—had popped up on Amazon Prime. It’s the kind of “mystery/thriller” I like—talky, just a few people, limited physical space—and it’s fun to watch its (admittedly slight) puzzle plot fall together. It’s a hell of a lot more fun than the recent glossy (that’s my code word for tacky) CGI-drenched Agatha Christie reboots, which might as well have been called Murder on the Hard Drive.
The Outfit is super-scaled down; someone should try and stage it live. The whole movie takes place in three rooms in a Chicago tailor’s cutter’s (there’s a difference!) shop and there’s a bunch of Macguffin nonsense about a tape recording and dueling mob families or something. It’s one of those plots where there’s A Thing and Everyone Wants the Thing but the Thing doesn’t really matter. It could be a tape or a croissant or a flower pot, whatever. Eventually, everyone points guns (and scissors!) at each other and that’s what we were waiting for.
It’s really all about Mark Rylance and he’s the main reason it all works, but it’s a pretty big main reason. He’s in every scene and if you watch the movie a second time, keep your eye on him at all times to see if you can catch him giving anything away (the answer is: no). It’s just as much fun to watch him chalking and cutting wool or sewing on a sleeve as it is watching him … well, you’ll see.
There’s a tantalizing turn of the plot at almost the last minute that gives Nikki Amuka-Bird a fantastic entrance and even fantastic-er monologue, and a bit of me wanted the movie to be about twice as long so we could have more of her … but I’ll take what I can get.
By the way: the title is an absolutely terrible pun, and I do love a pun. But it’s forgivable.