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With: Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, Johnny Flynn, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Simon Russell Beale, Alan Mehdizadeh
Written by: Johnathan McClain, Graham Moore
Directed by: Graham Moore
MPAA Rating: R for some bloody violence, and language throughout
Running Time: 105
Date: 03/18/2022

The Outfit (2022)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Well Suited

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The feature directing debut of Graham Moore, who won an Oscar for his feature writing debut, The Imitation Game, The Outfit is clever and compact, offering tingly thrills and brain buzz as its pieces snap together. I confess I am a sucker for movies that take place in single locations over a brief amount of time (by contrast, I usually detest movies that span years and decades, complete with bad age makeup), and this one had me at hello. It especially had me with its brilliant poster, styled after the art of Saul Bass.

Mark Rylance is perfect as tailor Leonard, who is not a tailor at all, but rather a cutter; anyone can be a tailor, but cutting requires great skill. Rylance builds on his Oscar-winning performance in Bridge of Spies, a meticulous, quiet exterior that belies great wisdom and cunning. He works with a loyal receptionist, Mable (Zoey Deutch), who dreams of getting out and seeing the world.

On this night, in Chicago in the 1950s, two gangsters — Richie (Dylan O'Brien) and Francis (Johnny Flynn) — enter his shop. Leonard is forced to keep a crime-related dropbox in his back room — he has no choice if he wants to stay in business — and from it, the criminals get word that there is a rat in the organization. But there is also a recording that could provide clues as to who it is.

The rest of the night involves a secret relationship, a dead body that needs to be hidden, a hunt for a machine that can play the tape, visits from the higher-ups, and several levels of deception. The Outfit has been criticized for being too intellectual about its puzzles and not providing any visceral thrills, but I found it to be a delightful cat-and-mouse cinematic chess game, with each new twist so satisfying it feels as if the film itself is grinning.

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