Outside the Wire – Movie Review

I have always believed in my own coinage ‘Artificial Intelligence, Natural stupidity”. Netflix’ own production “Outside the Wire” is just that. When humans start depending more and more on machines and lesser on human values, we’re only headed for a major apocalypse. And this film once again reveals why is it so. 

Harp (Damson Idris) is a drone pilot operating from a US Marine base and has a successful career as a drone pilot (the films is set in 2036). During a mission where Marines are fighting against an ambush, Harp decides by himself to strike a missile from the drone instead of listening to his superior’s order to hold back; the guys on ground want to save 2 wounded soldiers and are trying their best but Harp chooses to push the missile to save the 38 soldiers instead as there is a fully loaded van which is about to blow up. Subsequently, Harp is reprimanded; escapes a Court Martial and a jail term thanks to a benevolent boss, though he is sent to Camp Nathaniel in Ukraine to understand “ground realities”.

At a Marine camp in Utah, Lieutenant Harp has to report to Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie). Only after a fe minutes of interaction does Harp realise that Leo is not a human but a robot with a human skin and feelings. This is very similar to what Indian (Tamil) Director Shankar showcased in his 2009 outing “Enthiran” (Robot in Hindi), tamil film featuring Superstar Rajinikanth. Even as he creates a robot which can perform any task practically including being in the armed forces, his product is rejected due to safety concerns since the device (hic!) lacks human emotions and could simply fire at anyone as coded / dictated by another machine or as programmed by it’s creators. And the same happens in this film too. 

Hats off to Director Shankar for finishing his film with a fitting excuse to shut the project – that machines should NEVER control human lives as it is not only dangerous, but also insensitive as they simply “lack the sixth sense – common sense!”. Many humans also lack this is for another article, on another day…

Leo and Harp leave almost immediately “outside the wire”, rather the heavily guarded campus where the marines are housed in Ukraine to deliver vaccines to patients in a hospital. On their way, Leo explains that he is actually going to use Harp as a reason to capture Viktor Koval (Pilou Asbaek) who is about to get hold of a “code” which he plans to use to fire the nuclear missile which has been safely guarded for the past 50 years after the end of the Cold War between Russia and the US. 

The duo, along with other forces encounter ambush al through their journey to the hospital. This is when Harp realises that working as a Drone Pilot sitting in a room is completely different than working in the ground – facing bullets, running for cover for self and for others and how calculations in the backend need not necessarily work successfully in the front yard. 

I could relate this quite well to the Board room discussions which never get actioned in the market place, especially in consumer Sales. Discussions, Decisions and Strategies taken in a/c rooms coupled with coffee, biscuits or beer never serve much purpose if they are not executed based on market realities – one important reason why many Brand Marketing Strategies fail, since the decision makers are far from reality.

Harp realises in due course that Leo is about to outsmart him – by making him remove the “chip” tracker from Leo’s body (system) and by portraying Harp as a traitor to the country’s interests, Leo decides to fire the Nuke to the US so his creators realise how and what it is to destroy the lives of innocent people by calling themselves the saviour of the world and having a presence in practically every war-torn country or region in the world. Will he succeed in making this apocalypse happen; will he prove human created “artificial intelligence” is perhaps the biggest blunder? Watch the movie on Netflix.


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