Worth it? Yes on Netflix. A typical Leto movie, it is enjoyable as a Netflix movie, but not much more then that.
After World War II, an American POW stays in Japan and works his way through the rituals and hardships of the yakuza to become a member of the crime organization.
Jared Leto seems to be a polarizing figure, and while I dislike some of his acting methods, I have overall liked his movies and his music. I liked him well enough in this movie, even if the movie itself is definitely direct to Netflix.
This review does have some spoilers, so if you don’t want details don’t read any more.
Outsider doesn’t have a lot of backstory in it. You never truly learn who Nick’s character is or where he came from before his time in a Japanese prison as a POW. However, the movie isn’t about that kind of thing, it is about Jared Leto being silent, staring death at others and befriending a yakuza boss named Kiyoshi by saving his life.
In return Kiyoshi invites Nick into his world of the Yakuza, where he earns a place begrudgingly into the family. What was a pleasant surprise is that he wasn’t fully accepted in by all members as he was gaijin, an outsider and it becomes clear even until the end of the movie that is where he is.
After the typical betrayals by others, a father figure killed and revenge taken on the betrayer by Leto the movie ends with the yakuza family still destroyed. I appreciated that Leto didn’t save the family in the end, he merely avenged their “father”.
I wouldn’t call this the typical white savior movie. In the end he doesn’t become in charge or actually save the family. His brutality and ability to just commit 100% to what he needs to do is what lets him finish his revenge.
To be honest I expected even with how much I like Jared Leto (still for no specific reason I can identify with) that he would be the problem in the movie, he isn’t. The writing and the pacing of the movie seem off, and it is not at all my favorite yakuza based movie. That being said it was worth watching, and while it only received 20% on critics on Rotten Tomato, evidently audience score was 70% so I don’t think I am alone here.
The good: The setting of the movie is different, Leto does his thing, and I like the Kiyoshi character and actor.
The bad: The pacing and directing seem off, the story is slow in spots and there isn’t a lot of originality. Also the flirtation with the white savior cliche is too close.
I would still recommend you see it when it is a rainy day and you don’t have anything else important to do.
Trailer: Sadly it makes the pacing seem better then the actual movie.