Outrage (Japan: Autoreiji), 2010.
Directed by Beat Takeshi (aka Takeshi Kitano).
Starring Takeshi Kitano, Kippei Shiina and Ryo Kase.
A Japanese Yakuza (mafia) action film, following two opposing drug syndicates. The boss of one of these syndicates, Sekiuchi orders his lieutenant Kato, and right-hand man Ikemoto to bring down the competition, a job that Ikemoto hands over to Otomo (played by director Takeshi Kitano) who runs his own gang.
Call me simplistic, but just writing the synopsis alone was hard work here. This is a film that requires a great amount of attention - not only to read the subtitles, which I have no issue with, but to also keep up with what the hell is going on.
Takeshi Kitano, also known as Beat Takeshi (the name he uses exclusively to credit his work as a director), has created a film which has impressed a fair few crowds. I have seen and read a couple of reviews that cite this film as a 3 star film (including Total Film). I have to disagree. I’d probably give it 2 stars at the most - and what follows here, is why.
Kitano previously ventured the yakuza genre around ten years ago with Brother, a film which I have never seen, and probably won’t after seeing Outrage. My main issue with Outrage is the relentless violence - and no, I’m not being a sissy. I like a violent film as much as the next person, but the violence has to mean something, it has to be there for a reason. After some research half way through my viewing of the film (I had to watch it in two parts, more on that later), I discovered that Kitano had initially come up with the scenes of violence - including a dentistry torture scene, and the cutting off of a finger with a blunt instrument, before coming up with the plot to string the scenes together. Had I not known this information, I could have easily guessed it. What’s interesting though, is that many of the deaths in Outrage are really quite unoriginal, with only a small handful (in a large bunch) really standing out.
Outrage relishes in these sometimes creative violent scenes to the point where the parts in between feel pointless. It is a classic example of a filmmaker coming up with some ideas they find brilliant, and realising they have to draw them together somehow, so come up with a plot which is not only tedious, but confusing. Perhaps the culture difference played a part in my misunderstanding of the film, but the number of characters, and how often the focus shifted, must also play a part. Introducing several ‘gangs’ and quickly interchanging between them makes for a narrative which is near impossible to cling on to. There’s no character you feel any compassion for, which means the film drags on relentlessly for it’s 109 minutes runtime which may not sound like a lot, but it feels like a lifetime when you’re left lost.
In its merit, Outrage is shot fantastically. Kitano may seemingly be lacking in writing skill here, but his direction is wonderfully done. With creative camera angles, and a variation of showing violence quite graphically as well as teasing the audience by keeping distance, the ride may be long but the view is bearable. On a second watch, Outrage may make some more sense, and be all the more appreciated, but having to stop a film from boredom half way through does not make for much hope of a second chance.
With Outrage 2 rumoured to be released next year, Kitano will hopefully have considered the storyline and characters with greater precision than the violent deaths that will inevitably come to them.