When looking for something to watch, literally no one has ever said the words, “But what I’d really like to see is an emo Jared Leto Yakuza movie.” Literally no one. Has ever. Said that. And yet HERE WE ARE, with an emo Jared Leto Yakuza movie. What have we done wrong? Which gods have we offended? What ritual must be performed under a waning moon in order to restore balance to the universe and lift the crone’s curse?
The movie is called The Outsider and it’s about Jared F*cking Leto joining the Yakuza. I don’t know what about John Wick made everyone think they can be John Wick, too, but John Wick only works because of Keanu Reeves and the very specific relationship he’s built with audiences by being a very specific kind of actor and even more specific type of celebrity. But I’m getting a real “John Wick but with Jared Leto and the Yakuza” vibe from this trailer, which means someone kind of misunderstood the assignment because Jared Leto does not have the kind of audience relationship or type of celebrity to effectively sell that. Jared Leto’s audience relationship and type of celebrity makes him the guy you cast to get his ass kicked six ways to Sunday in Fight Club.
Somewhere along the line we decided to let Jared Leto become more than the guy who got his ass beat in Fight Club, and now we have an emo Jared Leto Yakuza movie. Again, WHO ASKED FOR THIS. If you’re into noir but are tiring of the Scandi stuff, Japanese cinema has great noir game. You can start with Kurosawa’s classics Stray Dog and Drunken Angel, and you can’t go wrong with the work of Seijun Suzuki. More recently, The Snow White Murder Case and Traces of Sin are genre stand-outs. There’s no reason for an emo Jared Leto Yakuza movie, when there is already an entire sub-genre of great Japanese Yakuza movies (Takeshi Kitano and Takashi Miike are crushing it in that area). But if there simply must be this movie about an outsider joining the Yakuza, why not make it about a diasporic person? A Japanese-American, perhaps, exploring their duality in post-war Japan. Wouldn’t that be better? Wouldn’t watching two hours of pimple-popping be better than an emo Jared Leto Yakuza movie?