‘Outside the Wire’ Ending Explained

Published on January 21, 2021

A civil war has erupted in Europe, the opening text for Outside the Wire reveals. The new sci-fi action movie is a hit for Netflix, based on the fact it’s been in the top 10 most popular releases since its debut. The film stars Marvel favorite and Hurt Locker star, Anthony Mackie, as a robotic soldier thrown into the middle of the civil war.

The story follows Lieutenant Thomas Harp (Damson Idris) in the near future. The drone pilot makes a hard decision at the beginning of the story that kills a handful of soldiers in order to save over 30. As a result, he’s become an outcast and sent to work for another outsider, Leo (Anthony Mackie), a machine who’s great in a fight and knows how to swear with musicality. All credit goes to Mackie, who perhaps due to his days in the Marvel universe, is more than convincing in the action scenes. 

The unlikely duo must stop a nuclear attack. Victor Koval is the big bad of the movie. He wants his hands on nukes left behind by Russia. To stop the villain, Harp and Leo must leave “outside the wire,” where their military base is. Once they do, they find themselves in a race against time to stop a nuclear weapon from taking more lives. The story is a buddy comedy without much comedy, although there are moments of levity in the bleak and original sci-fi war story. 

Written by Rowan Athale and directed by Mikael Håfström (1408), the story thrives on practical action and the lead performances. The punches, explosions, and the dynamic between Harp and Leo, those are the movie’s most captivating qualities and ground the high-concept movie. During Harp and Leo’s journey to stop a nuclear attack all on their own, there’s the usual trappings of a buddy movie, including the two opposites growing closer and rubbing off on each other.  

Of course, a twist comes along and changes everything. The whole time, Leo was manipulating Harp. The cyborg had an ulterior motive for the nuclear launch codes. He knocks Harp out and goes rogue and solo to confront Koval, who he was working with. The five-year-old robot gives Koval the codes he wants, but again, another double-cross comes when Koval refuses to provide access to the nuclear missile silo. In turns, Leo kills the man. 

As for the real ending — here it comes, the Outside the Wire ending explained — Leo wants to launch the nukes at the United States of America. Like Thomas in the beginning, he wants to sacrifice lives to save more lives. By nuking the US, Leo believes more wars will be prevented. Harp now has to go after the superior that took him under his wing, to stop him from launching the nukes. 

Harp does pull the plug on Leo, but not in time to stop Leo from entering the codes to launch the nukes. As a result, Harp’s superiors order a drone strike, stopping the launch and killing Leo. Harp returns to the base, is praised as a hero and not a villain this time, and now, sees the horrors of war a little bit more from Leo’s point-of-view. The young soldier walks away, unsettled by the reality of war. The former drone pilot changes once he experiences the war firsthand. It’s an arc that Idris plays well. The movie as a whole lacks a certain oomph and consistent excitement, but as for the relationship and payoff to Harp and Leo’s relationship, there’s entertainment value there.

Check out our most recent ending explained for Midnight Sky.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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