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The Anthony Mackie Sci-Fi Action Movie Killing It On Netflix

Netflix has committed to delivering a new movie every week in 2021, and among the streamer's first batch of fresh films is Anthony Mackie's fast-paced action/sci-fi movie Outside the Wire. Since it's January 15 debut, the movie has generated plenty of buzz, and it's currently dominating Netflix's Top 10 list, where it holds the top spot in the U.S., as of writing.

Set in 2036, Outside the Wire plays out against the backdrop of an Eastern European warzone. The movie stars Mackie as the wise-cracking, but dangerous android soldier Leo, who is paired with the drone pilot Thomas Harp (Damson Idris). The two soldiers are assigned to work together after Harp makes a decision that leaves two marines dead, and he's sent to the frontlines to witness the horrors of war up close.

While the setup hints at a potential exploration of the moral issues surrounding the use of remote drones, the movie never fully delves into the big ideas at its center. But what it does do well is deliver jaw-dropping action scenes and two terrific performances from Mackie and Idris.

Fans of the Marvel movies and Netflix's Altered Carbon are likely familiar with Mackie's talents, and he serves up another winning performance here as Leo, whose wicked sense of humor often makes you forget he's not human until he unleashes his full strength in the movie's battle scenes. However, Idris is the film's true standout star. As Harp begins to see just how horrifying the situation on the ground is, Idris sells the character's emotional journey, as well as his uneasy partnership with Leo.

What are critics saying about Netflix's Outside the Wire?

Critics haven't been kind to Outside the Wire, with the general consensus being the movie doesn't fully live up to potential of its concept. Currently, the film has a 36% score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is pretty dismal. However, even the film's most vocal critics are praising the cast.

In his review, RogerEbert.com critic Glenn Kenny wrote, "The visual effects are decent, the cast is better than decent." Meanwhile, Empire's Amon Warmann praised the actors, but ultimately declared the movie "rarely rises above being a serviceable action thriller."

Still, others praised the movie for delivering on its inventive sci-fi/action premise. "Outside the Wire is an efficient, fast-paced rollercoaster ride that's smart and buoyed by a razor-sharp screenplay and two magnetic performances," San Jose Mercury News critic Randy Myers wrote in his review.

Despite the critical divide, action movie fans will likely find plenty to love in this Netflix hit, and that's thanks in large part to Mackie and Idris' ability to elevate the material with their natural chemistry. In an era when big budget thrillers are in low supply, Outside the Wire is the kind of easy-viewing popcorn movie that viewers crave, and for that reason alone, it's well worth a watch.