While both The Big Goodbye and The Night Mayor make sharp deconstructions of the genre and its cliches, The Outsider lacks the imagination. The closest it ever gets to deconstruction of the genre is scripter Patrick Highsmiths naming the characters after actors from 1940s film noir thus we have a hero named Garland Widmark (after Richard Widmark and Beverly Garland), a heroine named Lita Hayworth after Rita Hayworth, and various other characters named after actors of the era such as John Huston, Sydney Greenstreet, Mary Astor, Claude Rains, Edward G. Robinson, Edmund OBrien, Peter Lorre, James Mason, Alan Ladd, even two thugs named Rath and Bone (after Basil Rathbone). [Even stranger is the fact that Patrick Highsmith is also the name of a fictional screenwriter in producer Avi Neshers Doppelganger (1993)].
Unfortunately, The Outsider never gets as interesting as its set-up suggests it might at the outset. It only ever ends up trapped down at the level of B movie cliches of amok AIs and android self-awareness. The action scenes are cheaply choreographed, while the latter half involves far too much running around and shooting up. Moreover, the idea falls down when it comes to director David Bishops decision to play things as camp. As The Outsider, Xavier Declie pouts and delivers bad cliche lines through a thick accent, while Stacey Williams vamps it to the hilt and gives an appallingly campy performance. One character named Huston naturally becomes the recipient of lots of bad Huston, weve got a problem, puns. The Outsider arms himself with bolas, which becomes the opportunity for much banter about Quit staring at my balls ... Youre the first man thats ever touched my balls.
The Outsider finally vanishes into a muddle of murky plotting during its end revelation of what is going on something about the computer calling its creator to it and arranging the kidnappings. It is so murky that it appears, if one understands correctly, that the computer has for some reason arranged the entire scenario in order to blow itself up.
The Outsider was produced by Mahagonny Productions, the company of producer Avi Nesher who has directed a number of similar B-budget sf films, including the likes of She (1983), Timebomb (1991), Doppelganger (1993) and Savage (1995). Mahagonny Pictures have also produced genre films such as Automatic (1995), Mars (1996), Legion (1998) and The Minion (1998).