The Outfit Review

PLOT: An export tailor attempts to save himself and his assistant when a group of gangsters make his shop the setting for a dark night of crime and murder.

REVIEW: Graham Moore, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game, has released his feature film directorial debut. The Outfit offers a small cast, a single location where the action takes place, and another sharp script from the filmmaker – co-written by Johnathan McClaine. Starring Dylan O’Brien, Zoey Deutch, and Johnny Flynn, this intriguing story centers around the fantastic leading performance of Mark Rylance. And yes, he commands the screen at every single moment he appears. The 1950s based drama has an intriguing premise, a great script, and a cast that brings it all home effortlessly. While the single location setting may sound overly “theatrical,” it works for the world Moore has established.

Mark Rylance is Leonard, an expert tailor who runs a shop for his wealthy clientele. He also has close dealings with a crime family who uses his shop for conducting business. Zoey Deutch is Mabel, an assistant to Leonard. While the two work exceptionally well together, and he thinks of her as a daughter, she has kept a few secrets from her employer. One of those secrets involves her relationship with Richie (Dylan O’Brien), the son of the man that keeps Leonard and his business under his watchful eye. However, on one fateful night, Richie and his partner Francis (Johnny Flynn) run into some trouble with the law, while both Leonard and Mabel are pulled deeper into danger when desperate men begin to take desperate measures.

Let’s start with the script. Along with screenwriter Johnathan McClain, Graham Moore has crafted a suspenseful tale with crackling hot dialogue. Nearly every word spoken feels like it could have come out of a James Cagney gangster film from the Fifties. And yes, this is a compliment. With a modest budget and keeping everything in one place, this script has to stand up to the monetary limitations. And yes, it is perhaps one of the most engaging stories I’ve seen in a gangster film in recent years. It brings the characters together while revealing all the twists and betrayals that occur throughout beautifully. It moves fast, with a rhythm, while tensions mount until a satisfying end.

As important as the script, you must have actors that can satisfyingly deliver the lines. And yes, this cast excels. As Leonard’s assistant, Zoey Deutch is sublime. She brings a sense of innocence and mystery to Mable. And then there are the baddies. Dylan O’Brien is excellent as Richie. The actor brings instant charm to the young gangster he portrays, so much so that we nearly sympathize with the guy. The man continues to impress with the choices he is making. And then there is Johnny Flynn. Francis is a timebomb. And the actor manages to bring this intensity to it without going overboard. As great as the script is, it works even better with this incredible group of actors supporting it. And while they only appear for a moment, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Simon Russell Beale, and Alan Mehdizadeh add a bit of class to this joint.

And then there is the film’s shining star, the brilliant Mark Rylance. As Leonard, Rylance exudes elegance and wit. The actor is in nearly every scene, and he expertly handles this fantastic role. Easily one of the best performances of the year – I know, it’s way too early for award chatter – this is Mark’s show. The less you know about Leonard, the better, and the script smartly allows him to witness the criminal atrocities surrounding his shop. The all-knowing tailor sees all, yet his devotion to the craft of cutting and creating beautiful clothing keeps him out of the messy details. Mark’s work here is extraordinary. With this kind of on-screen talent and an expertly written screenplay, the more restricted elements of a limited budget are less noticeable. And frankly, the single location only added to the classic gangster flick feel of the film.

The Outfit is a nuanced and delightfully pulpy thriller. Graham Moore has fashioned a familiar story into an engaging feature film. It doesn’t hurt that it all centers around the great Mark Rylance. The actor gives a sensational performance. It also features a fantastic supporting cast that brings a sense of honesty to the whipsmart dialogue. This is a promising directorial debut from Graham Moore. And while it may not compete with the big-budget action flicks with gunfire and explosions, it has heart and soul. There is much to appreciate within this world of criminals and gangsters. I highly recommend this well-crafted thriller. The excellent performances and a script that sings are well worth your time. The Outfit opens today in theatres.

The Outfit



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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.