“Outrage,” the latest offering from prolific Japanese filmmaker and actor Takeshi Kitano, marks his return to the pure, visceral gangster picture, so low-key and offhanded in its mastery that it becomes something like a pulp sleight-of-hand trick.
Kitano plays a middle manager of sorts in the Japanese yakuza gangster underworld, destined never to rise to the heights of the true bosses even as promotions are constantly dangled before him. Against a complex web of deal-making, promises made and broken and alliances well above his paygrade, he finds himself simply fighting for survival.
With an undercurrent of dark humor, like the severed thumb that lands in someone’s veggie noodle soup, Kitano abstracts the contemporary struggle, apparently an international one, to just hold a once-visible career path in view as industries crumble and realign.
Though it may at times seem like just another Japanese gangster picture, in “Outrage,” Kitano’s sense of pacing is so precise, at once restrained and relentless, that the film becomes a vortex, pulling audiences in deeper and deeper.
“Outrage.” MPAA rating: R for strong brutal bloody violence throughout, language, a scene of sexuality and some nudity. In Japanese with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes. At the Nuart, West Los Angeles.