Warner Bros. has released a variety of older movies, mostly science fiction or action, over the last few weeks, with names like Patrick Swayze, Dennis Quaid, and others highlighting “first time to Blu!” packaging. Outland, Sean Connery’s feature as a Marshal sent to a moon of Jupiter, is one of these films which seems elegant in terms of idea and story, but which fails to fully captivate us in its high definition glory. Still, it’s worth noting that it is a space Western, and one which focuses fully on Connery, giving fans an opportunity to look back at the epic years.
Marshal O’Niel (Connery) finds himself alone in his battle to clean up the mining operation on the moon Io. He’s up against the mining manager Sheppard (Peter Boyle), who prides himself in the production levels that his company has brought to the operation, even while ignoring other human necessities like appropriate behavior. But when things begin to go haywire in O’Niel’s stint there, he realizes that it’s more than problematic: there is a conspiracy that threatens the safety of everyone on board.
We know that O’Niel is motivated to get back to Earth, because his wife has basically given him an ultimatum (leave space, come back home). But we don’t really get a Braveheart-like speech about why he’s fighting Sheppard when no one else will. Instead, this is epic “code” material: O’Niel knows something bad is going on and he is morally obligated to stop it because it’s his job.
I don’t want to say that the movie is boring, because it’s Connery in a space Western. But the pacing is a bit slow. In 1981, in the height of James Bond fame, Connery probably blew people away but this one isn’t going to draw in people with no background to the movie. Still, it’s the crusading Connery character: the one who will put anything and everything on the line, risk it all, and not look back, just because someone has to stop the evil. It’s the kind of hero we want to be, and it’s the kind of sacrificial grace that each of us hopes we’ll discover in the right time.