The Outsider (2018 film)

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The Outsider
The Outsider.png
Film release poster
Directed byMartin Zandvliet
Produced by
Written byAndrew Baldwin
Music bySune Martin
CinematographyCamilla Hjelm Knudsen
Edited byMikkel E.G. Nielsen
  • Linson Entertainment
  • Waypoint Entertainment
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • March 9, 2018 (2018-03-09)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • Japanese

The Outsider is a 2018 Japanese-American crime drama thriller film directed by Martin Zandvliet and written by Andrew Baldwin. It stars Jared Leto, Tadanobu Asano, Kippei Shiina, Shiori Kutsuna, and Emile Hirsch and follows an American who becomes a member of the Japanese yakuza.

The film was released by Netflix on March 9, 2018, and received generally unfavorable reviews from critics.


Taking place in 1954 after the Allied occupation of Japan following the Second World War, Nick Lowell is the only non-Japanese inmate in an Osaka prison. Most other inmates are Yakuza criminals, recognizable by their Irezumi tattoos. Nick saves a Yakuza named Kiyoshi from being hanged to death, whose Shiromatsu Yakuza clan repays his debt by arranging Nick's release. He is also offered a job: Anthony Panetti, an American copper tradesman with a deep hatred for the Japanese, has refused to negotiate a deal with the Shiromatsu clan, but has agreed to a deal with a different clan because they sent an American to talk to Panetti. Nick agrees to "cancel out" the other American, but ends up violently beating Panetti on the head with a typewriter just a minute into the conversation instead.

When the rival Seizu Yakuza clan from Kobe challenges the Shiromatsu clan at their own strip club, Nick attacks their leader, nearly causing a shootout. Kiyoshi takes a liking to Nick, giving him an expensive apartment and a suit. He further entrusts Nick with driving his drunk sister Miyu home after he catches her partying at the Shiromatsu establishment. Nick spends the night with her and becomes more heavily embroiled with the Shiromatsu clan, taking the role of a violent enforcer. He continues his relationship with Miyu and gets an Irezumi tattoo on his back.

The Shiromatsu clan is under pressure from the rivaling clans, largely due to the ageing Shiromatsu patriarch's refusal to adapt to the rapidly changing post-war economy. Kiyoshi sends Nick to the harbor to handle a black market weapons deal, where he is attacked by four Seizu clan members, killing two. To avoid a war with the Seizu clan and as an apology, Nick and Kiyoshi perform an act of yubitsume. The severed joints are sent to the Seizu clan leader, who accepts. During a Sumo event the Seizu clan leader offers the Shiromatsu patriarch the possibility to retire in peace by assimilating his clan, which the old man refuses. Nick is brought to a Yakuza initiation ritual at an old temple and becomes a full member of the clan.

Later Nick is recognized by Paulie Bowers, an American soldier on leave. Through their conversation it is revealed that Nick was the former Captain of Bowers' unit, that the United States Military believes Nick had been killed in action, and that Nick might have engaged in war crimes. When Paulie makes an attempt at blackmailing Nick, he lures him back to his apartment and kills him. Nick learns that Miyu has been nearly raped by her former lover Orochi in the meantime, but Miyu stops him from taking revenge by telling him that the she is pregnant. Nick shows up at Kiyoshi's home and confesses the relationship with his sister. Arguing that Nick is now responsible for keeping Miyu safe, Kiyoshi gives him a Daishō, a pair of Samurai swords. Together they bury Bowers' body in the woods.

Some time later, Nick saves the Shiromatsu patriarch from being strangled to death by one of his own men while at the tailor shop. Kiyoshi is killed by two Seizu members during their escape. It becomes clear that many clan members have switched over to the Seizu clan, most importantly Orochi. Nick immediately suggests a clan war, to which the patriarch agrees. After a killing spree the Seizu clan leader offers peace talks at the local harbor, which turn out to be an ambush. The patriarch and many other Shiromatsu clan members die, Nick is wounded by a shot in the leg. Undeterred, Nick travels to the Seizu clan Dōjō with Kiyoshi's sword and demands an opportunity to kill Orochi. Orochi refuses to fight him, saying that Nick is only a foreigner and could never truly be a Yakuza. When Orochi hands him back the Katana, Nick quickly draws it and cuts Orochi's throat. The Seizu patriarch intervenes before any further violence occurs, and allows Nick to leave.

In the final scene, Nick returns to an apartment where he has hidden Miyu under the guard of the few remaining Shiromatsu clan members. He embraces her as the remaining members of the clan bow reverently to him.




On November 16, 2016, Netflix entered negotiations with Bloom and AFM to acquire exclusive global rights to the film.


Michael Fassbender was considered to star in the film when Daniel Espinosa was in talks to direct. Then, Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike was slated to direct the film with Tom Hardy in the titular role. However, the search for a new lead after Hardy's departure from the project conflicted with Miike's own commitments, which caused his dropout as well. Jared Leto was confirmed to join the cast on April 5, 2016.[1] Leto grew out his hair and beard for most of 2016 to prepare for the role of Nick Lowell and assume the appearance of an American prisoner of war. Tadanobu Asano was added to the cast on May 12.[2] Rory Cochrane was confirmed to join the cast on November 16.[3] Emile Hirsch was added to the cast on December 6.


Principal photography began in Tokyo, Japan in late September 2016. Principal photography wrapped in Osaka, Japan in December 2016.[4]


The film was released on Netflix on March 9, 2018.[5]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 17% based on 23 reviews, and an average rating of 3.6/10.[6] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 30 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Despite that it has received an average IMDb score of 6.3 out of 10.[7]

On, Nick Allen gave The Outsider 1 1/2 stars. He wrote that "“Jared Leto in a yakuza drama” isn’t the most palatable of pitches, but that somehow turns out to not be the movie's biggest problem."[8]


  1. ^ "Jared Leto To Star In Action Thriller 'The Outsider'". Deadline. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Jared Leto's 'The Outsider' Adds Japanese Actor Tadanobu Asano (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Netflix Circling Jared Leto Crime Thriller 'The Outsider' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  4. ^[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "What to watch on Netflix in March 2018 - best films and TV shows for International Women's Day". Mirror. UK.
  6. ^ "The Outsider (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  7. ^ "The Outsider Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  8. ^ Allen, Nick. "The Outsider Movie Review & Film Summary (2018) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2018-05-25.

External links[edit]