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‘Outsiders’ review: Sci-fi story with meaningful message

Grounded sci-fi with a message.


Outsiders is not the first genre film to tackle racial profiling. It is actually a common theme in many science-fiction films. Still, it works with an energy that is not often seen in similar movies. Jaylen Brown (Skylan Brooks) is a high school student who is the main suspect after a classmate disappears. As he works to clear his name, he discovers that otherworldly forces may be at play. 

Director Delmar Washington uses sci-fi as the device that gets the plot moving but never allows it to take center stage. This allows Outsiders to tell a more grounded story with a focus on its message. Jaylen is not made out to be the mythical hero of a fantasy. Instead, he is a young Black man who is trying to live his life in the mainly white southern town that he resides. Audiences are able to connect with the character on a much deeper level. 

The flip side is Outsiders can be a little too on the nose. The sheriff played by Shane West is a great example. There is not meant to be much depth to the character, yet it still feels like there is not enough meat to the character. Instead of being an avatar for the police problem in America, he is more of a caricature. 

When the movie makes sci-fi a more intricate part of the plot is when things falter. It never interacts as smoothly with the otherwise well written story as it should. Instead of working in concert, it tends to overpower the message in Outsiders. Great writing and a strong lead performance carry the film.

Outsiders will hit theaters and VOD March 11

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