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The Outfit (2022)—Suitable Suspense

The Outfit’s director and co-writer Graham Moore ( whose screenplay for “The Imitation Game” won an Oscar,) has created a slow-burn thriller fitting of Masterpiece Theater.

In early 1950s Chicago, only a few years after the end of the Second World War, proud sixty-something British Savile Row tailor Leonard Burling (the renowned stage actor Mark Rylance), meticulously cuts and sews bespoke suits primarily for organized crime.  The majority of his patrons who buy his rarified suits now ask him to hide their spoils and be a communication hub for their nefarious schemes.  Leonard begrudgingly agrees; his survival skills very much intact.

Little is known of the mild-mannered Leonard’s  backstory—where he insists he was a “cutter” who trained for decades in his noble and fastidious craft.  To those who care, Leonard proudly displays his cutting shears, the only prized possession he took with him when he left London.  He avoids any questions about why he left London, although he reluctantly admits “blue jeans” flooded the market, ostensibly shrinking his.

Earlier that morning, a tape recording left in the mailbox suggests there is an FBI informant whom the mob has to identify and eliminate.  Mabel, Leonard’s secretary, opens the envelope with the sought-after tape, not knowing what its contents are.   Dutifully assisting Leonard with his daily tasks, Mabel yearns for a better life somewhere in Europe.  She also is in a relationship with the son of the mob’s “godfather”, complicating the balance of power Leonard needs to cultivate. 

As night encroaches upon the tiny shop, the police, pending threats of an FBI raid, and violence escalate.  Although the mobsters consider Leonard “almost family”, they underestimate him which Leonard almost imperceptibly weaponizes. Can Leonard keep his quiet life together, his shop and his assistant’s livelihood, and still outwit the murderous thugs in a deadly cat-and-mouse game?

The level of suspense and tension at the heart of The Outfit, results in a surprisingly taut  thriller with great performances, especially from Rylance.

This sleeper is a winner!  Highly recommend!

Availability: Netflix DVD;  Prime Video for rental.

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