The Death Zone Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Outside the Wire / “Death Zone”

Genre action, fantasy
Directed by Mikael Hofström
Cast: Demson Idris (Lt. Thomas Harp), Anthony Mackie (Captain Leo), Emily Beecham (Sofia), Michael Kelly (Colonel Eckhart), Pilu Asbek (Viktor Koval) and others.
Studios Automatik Entertainment, 42 Films, Netflix
Release year 2021
Site IMDb

First, a few words about the name. The Death Zone is not an official Netflix translation; the streaming service does not translate the titles of its films in most cases. This is an initiative of news and film sites, and in different countries of the world. Similarly, the film is called in Chinese, Arabic, etc. The fact is that the name Outside the Wire is very difficult to translate adequately. Here is a play on words, Think outside the box – “Think outside the box”, and a hint that the behavior of the robot is programmed by its structure (once programming of large computers was carried out by switching the necessary registers using ordinary wires), and the fact that the robot came out of -under control, got out of the network access zone. Etc. So the “Death Zone” here is just the lesser evil.

So, 2036, Ukraine. Pro-Russian terrorists detonated a dirty nuclear bomb in the center of Kyiv, the government of the country no longer exists. Virtually the entire Left Bank has been taken over by Russia-backed militants led by the notorious Viktor Koval. Ukrainians, according to the old tradition, organize the Resistance. The United States sends a peacekeeping contingent to the country, but they practically do not go beyond the boundaries of the protected perimeter and cannot cope with the pro-Russian forces. In combat operations, the United States, together with the Marines, use drones and military robots of various types, militants find Russian-made robot soldiers in the mines.


In such an environment, one of the pilots, flying a drone from US territory, violates a direct order and, in an attempt to save a platoon of Marines, destroys several American soldiers along with the terrorists. Associated losses. As punishment, he is sent to Ukraine under the command of the mysterious Captain Leo, whose mission is to find and destroy mothballed nuclear missile silos, which, it turns out, still remain on the territory of our country and can fall into the hands of militants. True, Captain Leo is not quite a man, or rather, not a man at all. Captain Leo is a next-generation android combat robot that looks like a person, can feel, understands humor and is able to make independent decisions.


The role of the cyborg Captain Leo in Outside the Wire was played by actor Anthony Maki (Falcon in the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Takeshi Kovacs in the second season of Altered Carbon), he is also one of the producers of the picture. The director’s chair was taken by the Swede Mikael Hofström, who got involved in filming mediocre action and horror films in Hollywood. Hofström’s highest-rated film is Evil (2003), which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.


Actually, one of the main problems of Outside the Wire is poor directing. Most of the scenes are completely flat and formulaic, the action sequences are uninventive and boring, the dialogue is completely predictable. And because the screenwriters put theses into the mouths of the Ukrainian Resistance fighters that sound today from Russian propaganda mouthpieces, the film should generally be banned from being shown on the territory of Ukraine.

In general, with the ideas that the authors tried to put into this film, everything is very bad. Once again, we are talking about the responsibility of drone pilots who do not see the results of their actions up close. On the inadmissibility of using AI-controlled soldiers in battle. On the threat of protracted conflicts when using remote and robotic combat weapons. Yes, the topics are relevant, but they are presented in Outside the Wire extremely mediocre and not at all catchy.


Most of the filming for Outside the Wire took place in Budapest back in August 2019, which is another problem with the film. Firstly, Budapest is not very similar to Ukrainian cities, perhaps a little like Lviv, and secondly, so many mid-level action movies have been filmed in Hungary lately (thanks to the government’s initiative to make life easier for filmmakers) that they all merged into one amorphous average action movie. Let’s say Outside the Wire is confusingly similar to the same Spectral from Netflix, similar in setting and level of special effects, and filmed in the same Budapest.

As for the special effects…they are the most common. Not brilliant, but not a failure either. The level of the same Spectral or Chinese films, for example, The Wandering Earth. Considering that the Ukrainian Postmodern Digital was also involved in the latter, I would not be surprised if they had a hand in this as well.


The fact that the events of the film take place in Ukraine is primarily indicated by numerous and, most interestingly, correct signs and inscriptions in Ukrainian. “Crimea is Ukraine!” and “Glory to Ukraine!” is here too. And also the fact that all the extras speak Ukrainian even in the English version of the film, both resistance fighters and ordinary people, and even pro-Russian terrorists. Probably, thanks for this should be said to the same Postmodern studio, which was engaged in dubbing the film commissioned by Netflix. As for dubbing and subtitles, Postmodern has enough experience in this matter, so everything here is done at the level of films that fall into the Ukrainian film distribution, that is, excellent.

In general, the appearance on Netflix of the first film with Ukrainian dubbing on the day of release is a big victory. So, if you have a Netflix account, we recommend watching Outside the Wire, and in Ukrainian, even despite its low rating, just to show Netflix that such voice acting is in demand.

Pros: High-quality English dubbing and subtitles; extras speak Ukrainian even in the English version; some good action-scenes Cons: Pretty straightforward plot; weak directing; repetition in the film of some theses of Russian propaganda; fairly average level of CGI; locations in Budapest bear little resemblance to Ukraine Conclusion:

A very weak and largely predictable science fiction action movie, which takes place in the near future in Ukraine

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