The Outsider takes place in a world of endless lens flares, a J.J. Abrams–inspired visual tic as derivative as the rest of this vigilante B-movie, in which no-nonsense British military contractor Lex Walker (Craig Fairbrass) returns to L.A. upon hearing of the overdose death of his daughter, Sam (Melissa Ordway). When he gets to the city, he discovers that she's not really dead, thus initiating a search-and-rescue mission defined by lots of stale skirmishes and shootouts with anonymous thugs, as well as numerous shots of Lex scowling at everything from investigating detective Klein (Jason Patric) and crooked corporate bigwig Schuuster (James Caan) to Sunset Boulevard's rows of palms trees. Fairbrass (who came up with the story with director Brian A. Miller) proves a hulking wannabe ass-kicker without much distinctive charisma, and his leaden performance is matched by sleepy, one-note supporting turns by the slumming-it Patric and Caan. Eventual twists involving an identity-theft ring are apt given the imitative nature of The Outsider, whose fatal failing turns out to be a man-on-a-mission story that -- between its unimaginative fisticuffs, its laughable habit of depicting its baddie only in shadows, and its rote celebration of Death Wish–style justice in the face of a useless U.S. legal system — operates like a shopworn blunt instrument.
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