(Original Publication Date: August 8th, 2018) By: John M Jerva
STARRING: Adam Collins, Jessica Norris, Ian Hichens, Zara Phythian, Andy Calderwood, Anthony Burrows and Steven Blades
DIRECTED BY: Adam Collins and Luke Radford
Official Synopsis: Royal Marines Commando Jake O’Neil (Adam Collins) struggles to adjust to civilian life. When a former girlfriend Jade Roberts (Jessica Norris) seeks out his help to uncover the truth behind her father’s mysterious death, Jake agrees, but finds himself tangled in a web of corruption and murder
THE REVIEW: When I first saw the trailer for the new independent action flick Outlawed, I was immediately taken aback by how polished and slick it looked. The film came across in the promo spot just as good if not better than a lot of blockbusters that spend tens of millions of dollars on trailers alone. The film stars Adam Collins, who is literally the real deal as he is a former Royal Marine Commando and was deployed in an operational tour in Afghanistan. After leaving the service, he served as commander of private security operations off the coast of Somalia where he protected the waters against pirate attack groups in the Indian Ocean. Collins has since left his military career behind becoming an accomplished stunt professional in films such as American Assassin (2017), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), M:I 6 – Mission Impossible (2018), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), and Dunkirk (2017). Collins has the skills, the look and the moves to definitely set the action world on fire and that is what he exactly does with his first feature length film in which he also produced and co-wrote and co-directed with Luke Radford. Watching the film, it doesn’t take the viewer long to establish that Collins has that certain something special and when it comes to the action, as he is top tier just like when he was in the military. If Outlawed is any indication, Collins is certainly the next action star on the rise.
In Outlawed, Collins plays it close to the vest as he portrays Jake O’Neil who is also a Royal Marine operative. O’Neil is the best of the best and he is a man of few words that lets his actions do the talking for him. As the film opens in 1996 we are introduced to Archibald (Hichens), who is probably the dirtiest politician you will ever meet. He makes dirty politicians seem squeaky clean. Archibald wants power and he will get it by any means necessary which includes murdering the mayor of Nottingham. The whole incident was captured on tape, however, by a comrade of Mac, played by Anthony Burrows and when he is murdered because of it, the plot takes shape. fast forward to present day and we see O’Neil and his elite team featuring Smudge (Andy Calderwood) as they are sent on a mission to apprehend a high value target. The mission is a success and it puts O’Neil in the cross hairs of Archibald who wants to use the Royal Marine for his own means. O’Neil has a grounded moral compass, of course, and he flatly refuses the slimy politician’s offer. Archibald then strikes a deal with a ruthless drug runner and when he double crosses the man, his family is taken hostage setting events in motion where O’Neil and his team must execute a daring rescue. When the mission goes horribly awry, Archibald’s son is killed and Jake quits the service out of guilt.
Many months have past now and Jake is a shell of his former shelf now subjected to his own personal exile to atone for his past sins. Enter Jade (Norris), his childhood sweetheart who has proof that her father was murdered by Archibald as she now possesses the tape he shot back in 1996. Jade pleads with Jake to help her in her quest for justice and Jake sees this as an opportunity to help his friend and bring salvation into his life. Now the former elite operative must unleash all of his lethal skills as he executes a one man assault on Archibald and his dirty army which culminates in a breathtaking action finale for the ages where only one man will walk away from.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of independent action cinema and I feel that many times these smaller films kick the shit out of their blockbuster counterparts. Independent films are made by those who love what they do and there is no interference from big studio execs who have no idea what audiences want. With Outlawed. this is no exception as Collins and Radford have crafted an awesome throwback to the great films of the 80’s and 90’s when action, sex and violence ruled the cinemas. Collins is the perfect leading man as he is all action and few words as this is a film that would make past action icons such as Stallone and Schwarzenegger stand up and cheer the arrival of a new breed of action hero.
Aside from Collins, the supporting cast is top notch and they give it their all including Anthony Burrows who plays Mac, Jake’s commanding leader and surrogate father who raised him when his parents died years earlier. Mac is the perfect comrade to Jake as he will do anything for the man who he raised as his own. Jessica Norris is both vulnerable and strong at the same time as Jake’s childhood sweetheart Jade. Even though she becomes a pawn in Archibald’s plan to take out Jake, she proves to be a valuable ally and doesn’t lay down without a fight. Ian Hichens does a bang up job as the film’s villain Archibald and he oozes slime on camera the minute you meet him. Hitchens chews up his scenes and plays the role with a certain low brow demeanor. He isn’t over the top like some antagonists but instead he’s the quiet terror lurking in the shadows. Andy Calderwood as Smudge is the perfect example of someone who isn’t all that he seems as his loyalties to Jake and England become more cloudy as the film moves on.
The film was shot in Collins’ hometown of Nottingham, England and the city plays its own character in the film as Collins and Radford take every opportunity to showcase the iconic city. It’s refreshing to see a different landscape as New York City and other big name towns are usually used as the backdrop for action films. Even now that Collins is starting to take off in the action genre, he remembers where he came from.
The action in Outlawed is three fold as we get an exciting albeit brief scene in the beginning as Jake and his team take on insurgents to apprehend a terrorist. The scene is fast paced and break neck and it lays the foundation for what is ahead in the rest of the film. The second action set piece in the middle is a definite highlight where Jake and the Royal Marines execute the daring hostage rescue of Archibald’s family. The scene is played longer than the first and we get to see a lot more of Collins in action as he carves his way through an army of goons. The action is shot in a way where you can see what is happening and even though there is some jerky camera movements, you are never lost in the chaos as it it unfolding.
Now, of course, the major highlight is the last 30 minutes of the film as Jake launches his solo attack on Archibald as he literally drives through the front door on top a motorcycle with guns blazing. It’s the only way the scene could commence and it brought back memories of past action heroes like John McClane and more recent characters like Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning in Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen. Like those two great ass kickers, Jake storms the gates in epic fashion and brings the pain to all that have done wrong. The rest of the climax is filled with insane shoot outs and close quarters combat that doesn’t shy away from the violence in some spots. Jake takes a licking but he keeps on ticking a he shoots, punches and kicks his way through an army to get to the one man that deserves to die. The man gets shot at with an M-203 grenade launcher and brushes it off like it was nothing. Well, almost nothing. Rambo would approve. The finale is truly a sight to behold and it definitely ranks up there with some of my favorite action scenes in recent years. If this is Collins’ debut effort than the sky is the limit for the future. Jake O’Neil is a one man wrecking crew that deserves to have further adventures put on celluloid. Pretty please!
To sum it all up, Outlawed is one of the best independent action films to hit the screen this year or any year. It is a slam bang, high-octane thrill ride for Queen and Country that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. The heart and soul that went into this production is evident from the word go and everyone associated with the film deserves accolades for making a huge something out of nothing. It should be required viewing for all big studio hotshots so they can see how to make a proper action film with good ol’ fashioned stunts and camera work that does the action justice. With Outlawed, Adam Collins has arrived and he has officially announced himself as a new breed of action hero. I cannot wait to see what the man has in store for his next starring vehicle because with Outlawed, Collins is the REAL DEAL!
VERDICT: ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!!!
OUTLAWED is now available on DVD, Digital and is streaming on Netflix!