Outside The Wire: Netflix’s Sci-Fi Military Movie Explanation

Outside the Wire is now available on Netflix, as well as the sci-fi military action concludes with a bang, to say the least. Since its January 15 release, the picture, which stars Anthony Mackie and Damson Idris, has gotten mixed reviews. Part of the reason for the lackluster reception is a perplexing final act filled with twists, shifting alliances, and some odd thematic messages.

Outside the Wire’s general plot is very normal for the genre. Lieutenant Harp, played by Damson Idris, is a US drone pilot who is relocated from his distant American station to a military outpost in Ukraine. Fighting between Russian-backed warlords competing for dominance, a band of rebel soldiers, and the US “peacekeeping” army stationed in the demilitarized zone has ripped Ukraine apart in 2036. Harp joins Captain Leo (Mackie), a prototype AI/cyborg soldier, on a secret mission to take down a warlord on the lookout for nuclear weapons.

The majority of the movie unfolds, but the final act has several unexpected betrayals and plot twists. Outside the Wire tries to express a lot in a short period of time about the present American war machine and its influence on other regions of the world, but the gunfire and explosions drown out a lot of the message. Here’s what happens at the conclusion of Outside the Wire.

Outside The Wire: Ending

Outside the Wire doesn’t hold back. At the outset, Leo informs Harp that their job is to locate nuclear launch codes before warlord Victor Koval (Pilou Asbk) launches an attack on the United States. However, after the codes are obtained, Leo admits that he had ulterior objectives all along. He tricks Harp into disconnecting his trackers and control microchip so he may operate outside the US military’s jurisdiction, then knocks Harp out and takes him to meet with Koval.


After a short negotiation messes up, Leo executes Koval, learns the location of the covert missile silos, and plans his own attack on America with the nuclear weapons he now has access to. Meanwhile, Harp is kidnapped by Sofiya (Emily Beecham), a local orphanage runner who turns out to be the rebel movement’s commander. Sofiya gives a short tirade about the ills of the American military-industrial complex before releasing Harp, claiming that Leo is correct in teaching the US a lesson.


Harp returns to base, alerts Col. Eckhart (Michael Kelly), and goes in to stop Leo. Harp confronts Leo in the missile silo, questioning why he wants to nuke the United States before ordering a drone strike to destroy the launch control center and rescue the day. Harp is notified that Leo has died and that he will be transferred home.

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Outside The Wire: Did Leo Betray U.S. Military?

Leo’s treachery comes so quickly and in such a jumbled montage that his true intentions are difficult to pin down. Sofiya claims that Leo “can’t lie to himself,” that he feels guilty for being a tool in the ruthless American war machine, and that his planned strike is a justifiable response for the suffering that troops like harp have inflicted. However, Leo’s renegade purpose isn’t just motivated by this.

Leo tells Harp in his closing moments that his purpose was to persuade America to terminate the AI/cyborg program that produced him. He doesn’t go into detail, but it appears that if he murders millions of people, the US military will be obliged to stop producing new troops like him due to the threat they pose.


His underlying reasoning for this choice is unclear, but it appears that he either sees himself (and others like him) as legitimate outgrowth of the war machine he’s trying to halt, or that he’s understood something more evil of himself and his kind’s capabilities.

In the same speech, Leo claims that the strike is meant to teach the US a lesson about the consequences of their repeated conflicts. This indicates that his intention to end the android program is linked to his general dissatisfaction with the military-industrial complex. In essence, he feels that warriors like him will only add to the world’s pain, and he wants them to be stopped. However, the titles sequence appears to depict many more cyborgs being developed, implying a bleak future.

Outside The Wire: Anti-war Message

Outside the Wire seeks to give criticism on the present condition of war and the military-industrial complex, in the same vein as anti-war films like Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver on its promise by not providing a clear message. Leo and Sofiya give a nuanced view of US military engagement in international affairs, which they believe is nearly always motivated by power grabs that dismiss hapless outsiders as civilian casualties. However, that’s about as far as the movie is prepared to go.


Leo and Sofiya’s resolve to destroy America comes with a large, unavoidable cost (millions of deaths, as the film repeatedly emphasizes), which regrettably makes their convictions appear equally irrational. It’s an unusual approach: if Sofiya disagreed with the war machine but objected to Leo’s more severe efforts to stop it, the movie may have had a more intriguing discussion about how to solve the problem. Instead, the overall message appears to be just that war is terrible, with little attempt made in the last act to address the film’s more complicated issues. Ultimately, despite some intriguing concepts, it falls short of its potential.

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Outside The Wire: Conclusion

The conclusion of Outside the Wire is a cautionary tale about the influence of technology on combat. Harp’s drone flying, Leo’s battle “gump” robots fighting alongside real soldiers all offer a terrifying vision of a near-future where conflicts are waged indefinitely since the humans waging them aren’t the ones in risk.

Supposedly, Leo wants the android program to be terminated because he feels that if troops like him become the common warriors of the future, mankind would be subjected to even more callous brutality at the hands of the strong. It appears to be the aim of the finale, and even if Outside the Wire frequently avoids hammering home the argument in favor of broad philosophizing, that is unmistakably the question being posed.

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