Chicago-bred novelist Graham Moore offers some dark, tightly knitted deception to a studied, if able mob drama.
The Outfit has a notable theatrical presence given the primary use of one location as a London soundstage coves for the Windy City. As elements of the narrative and production educe the likes of Scorsese and Tarantino, even the masterly Hitchcock.
Also, having veteran British thespian Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) rooted in the stage as former Londoner and couturier Leonard Burling evinces a deadpan roguish, if humble appeal.
Dealing with the extended fallout of the Second World War, Leonard refined his trade from Saville Row before emigrating to the States. Having Eire capo Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale) as his opening patron set the tone for an underworld clan. A prospective heir in Richie is given a certain fiery demeanor by Dylan O’Brien and the lieutenant in the bad-minded, if efficient coterie is an enforcing Johnny Flynn as Francis.
The front for the Boyle operation which also is a convenient hideout observes a ‘drop spot’ against their formidable rivals in the La Fontaine who’s Madame Violet (Nikki Amuka-Bird, of Haitian and French descent) rules the roost.
The story, collaborated on by Moore (who won an Oscar for scripting The Imitation Game) concentrates on an impasse predicated on a Boyle mole whose leaks uncover an FBI stakeout. Not to mention their dangerous adversary impelling Leonard to put his shop materials to use at Francis’s behest.
It doesn’t really have the compelling authenticity that John Boorman gave to the milieu of a well-connect, reinvented Cockney ex-con and self-serving MI-6 agent as played by Geoffrey Rush and Pierce Brosnan over a couple of decades ago in the mood, subtly intriguing espionage low grosser The Tailor of Panama. That marked its dark duplicity with a certain dry wit not equaled here with discursive narrative propulsion.
Thus, a recording MacGuffin as a part of the intrigue and languor as Leonard serves as a father figure to his furtive assistant Mabel (Zoe Deutch, daughter of Lea Thompson). How ambitions are considered into the shifting and turncoats alike may engage well enough to instill a bit of mystery into the moniker’s double meaning. Though contrived, The Outfit can be a classy, modestly made nasty yarn, generally framed well enough to hide the seams.