Before Henry Hill could say the words “Hi Mom! What do you think?” He had to obtain one of the foundational aspects of mob iconography. The outfit.
The outfit is a small scale mob/ crime drama about Leonard, an English cutter who provides the classy attire for the local mafiosa in his Chicago neighbourhood. After years of keeping his nose clear from the gangs dirty doing he’s involuntary thrust into an escalating night of betrayal, murder, high stakes, gang conflict and tension. The outfit effortlessly ropes you into its premise with concise yet effective character writing which instantly grabs your attention and investment for the ensuing climactic thriller.
The outfit is great work of concise yet effective thriller writing. Like Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs it uses its single location to craft a tight and encasing crime thriller full of unique characters colliding with each other within the sweltering confinement of it’s restrictive walls. Each charismatic gangster or seemingly innocent bystander has their secrets, desires and ambition, each of them fighting and deceiving each other to get what they want leading to a wonderfully engrossing watch. Sharp and to the point, the outfit is a wonderful piece of drama that had me gripped until an unfortunate snag at the end.
The blatant misstep of the screenplay holding it back from true greatness is the over reliance and continuous use of hamfisted monologues in which Leonard either alludes to a detailed past or just dumps his life story on us in uninteresting fashion – a cliche tale that would have been left ambiguous. The frequent interruptions only served to halt the tense pacing and devalue Leonards gentle, subdued character which could have been a fun subversion of the traditional crime thriller protagonist had it not been derailed by an ill conceived grand reveal ending in an unsatisfying conclusion.
The ensemble of gangster criminals, secretaries, rival gang leaders and of course the lovable tailor all had great chemistry and friction with each other heightening the already tense writing with some incredible weight and depth. Mark Rylance fits perfectly into the lead role and gives a fantastic performance, always delivering even when the material he’s given wasn’t. Another standout would be Johnny Flynn playing the film’s antagonist Francis who elevated the trigger happy mobster with a magnetic and terrifying presence.
The reserved score always hits the mark. Effortlessly cool in the subdued jazz and subtly classy at the same time. An unpronounced yet vital aspect to the impeccable tone the film creates. Aiding in creating this tone is some impressive style showcased in it’s sharp editing and some great concise visuals stylings.
Although it couldn’t stick the landing the outfit is a wonderful small scale drama that delivers on its thrills and turns with an excellent cast of performances and well crafted style.
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.