The Outfit is a 2022 crime drama debut by director Graham Moore. Graham wrote the story along with Johnathan McClain. This is a beautifully executed film that keeps you guessing. The plot is centred on an old tailor whose shop is used by gangsters to conduct their dirty business. One night, it all goes south, and the old man has to use his wit to stay alive. Mark Rylance is incredible in this film and is joined by Johnny Flynn, Zoey Deutch and Dylan O’Brien, to name a few. Here’s the plot and ending of The Outfit explained; spoilers ahead.
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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:
What is the Outfit?
The Chicago Outfit is a crime syndicate that came to power in the 20s and was first led by Al Capone. While this real-life crime family is referred to in the film, no character from the Outfit is ever involved in the plot. Also, just so you know, the film is set in the 50s, much after Al Capone’s death.
Who are the Boyles?
The Boyles are small-time gangsters led by Roy Boyle, and they are looking to make it big by being associated with The Outfit. While they appear to be a vast network, they are neighbourhood criminals. Richie is Roy’s son and is no good and only leaves messes for Francis to clean up.
Who is Francis?
Francis is Roy’s right-hand man. He was a young nobody who Roy took under his wing. Francis is very loyal to Roy and has taken 6 bullets for him in the past.
Who are the LaFontaines?
The LaFontaines are a rival gang to the Boyles led by Violet LaFontaine. Violet is of French origin and hates the Boyles, who can’t stand foreigners making big money.
The Outfit: Who is Leonard (English)? Who was the cutter?
In his younger days, Leonard was a gang member in London. But when asked to do something monstrous, he made a run for it and hid in Savile Row, where he learned to cut and stitch suits and eventually met a girl, got married and had a child. All was well until his old gang found him, and they punished him by setting his shop on fire, which killed his wife and child. He left England and moved to Chicago to escape all the violence.
Unfortunately, his first customer turns out to be Roy Boyle. In time, the Boyles became Leonard’s highest-paying customers who started using the shop to conduct illegal activities. In time, they set up a secret drop box to exchange messages from allies and other gang members.
Who is Mable?
Mable is a young woman tired of living in Chicago and desperately looking for a way out. She works as a receptionist in Leonard’s shop. Leonard and Mable share a pseudo-father-daughter relationship and care for each other. Mable is dating Richie Boyle because she has a plan.
The Outfit: Who is the rat? What is Mable up to?
Mable is the rat. She can’t stand the Boyles sucking the neighbourhood dry. Mable learns from Richie about the rising tension between the Boyles and LaFontaines. So she starts sneaking information to the LaFontaines. However, realizing that soon Francis would suspect her, she helps the FBI plant a recorder in Leonard’s shop. With the Boyle’s out the way and money from LaFontaine, Mable plans to leave Chicago.
What is Leonard up to? What is the tape?
Leonard realizes that Mable is trying to incriminate the Boyles. He wants them gone too and secretly decides to help Mable. Leonard turns a blind eye to the tape recorder left by the FBI in his shop. Now remember, in the 50s, the common person didn’t have access to tapes or recorders. Leonard slowly starts dropping a few fake communications from the Outfit into the Boyle’s drop box. Then, one night, Leonard creates a fake recording and drops the tape with a note reading, “You’ve got a rat”, and marks this from the Outfit.
The Boyles now not only believe that the Outfit cares for them but cares enough that they get them a copy of the FBI’s tape. However, a cassette player is rare given the era, and the Boyles haven’t heard what’s on the tape yet.
The Outfit: Plot Explained
Due to a tip-off from Mable, the LaFontaines attack the Boyes, Richie gets shot in the stomach, and Francis brings him to Leonard’s shop, forcing him to stitch up Richie’s wound. After that, Francis leaves, looking for a player to hear the tape and find out where the recorder was planted and who the rat is. Leonard removes the cassette from its box and hides it.
Richie awakens and thanks Leonard for saving his life. Leonard tactically plants a thought in Richie’s head that Francis might be the rat. Then, when Francis arrives at the store, he lies to him, saying Richie is saying he knows who the rat is. Because of this, Francis and Richie have an altercation where the box with the tape falls and reveals itself to be empty. Following this, Francis shoots and kills Richie.
Leonard and Francis hide Richie’s body in a chest. Roy Boyle shows up asking for his son. Francis lies, saying Richie left with the tape to find Roy. Roy sends Francis to look for his son but soon notices that Richie’s coat is still in the shop. In December, in Chicago, there is no way his son walked out of the store without his coat. Before Leonard confesses at gunpoint, Francis returns with Mable, lying that he found blood stains in her house.
Why does Francis get Mable?
Mable is the rat, but Francis doesn’t know this. He brings her over to pin Richie’s disappearance on her. He convinces Roy to torture her to get information about Richie and the tape’s whereabouts.
Leonard desperately stalls for time by saying he lost his family to a fire and heard them screaming to death. Just then, the phone rings – one of Roy’s men calling to say he hasn’t heard from Richie, but Leonard acts like the call was from Richie, saying he was hiding at 31st and Halsted with the tape and wants Roy to meet him there.
Roy leaves, and Francis wiggles his way out of going with them. Leonard discloses that Mable is the rat, and they now have the opportunity to inform the LaFontaines about where to ambush Roy. And with Roy and Richie gone, Francis can lead the Boyle’s operations. Francis agrees, and Mable tells the LaFontaines about Roy. The LaFontaines also want to get the tape in exchange for money in one hour.
Why did Violet LaFontaine want the tape if she’s killed Roy Boyle?
Violet doesn’t know Richie Boyle is dead and wants the tape as she will have leverage over the remaining Boyles. Besides, the cassette has information on the Boyle’s operations, she hopes it will help her take control of the Boyle’s network.
After killing Roy and his men, Violet LaFontaine arrives at the shop. Francis instructs Leonard and Mable to take the money and give a signal so he can kill LaFontaine. This way, he can take over the Boyles and eliminate his rival. But Leonard indicates the hidden gunman to Violet.
Francis gets himself into a Mexican standoff with LaFontaine and her men. Leonard lies, saying he took the bullets from Francis’ gun earlier. In the split second that Francis peeks into his pistol, he gets shot.
After LaFontaine leaves with the tape, Leonard discloses that the Outfit was never involved in all of this, and it was all his fake messages in the drop box. Leonard takes out the tape that recorded all the events of the night and asks Mable to hand it to her FBI contact to incriminate the remaining Boyles and the LaFontaines. He also urges Mable to leave town with all the money, and the two bid goodbye.
Leonard pours kerosene all over his shop and sets it on fire. Francis gets up and fires at Leonard and clips him in his hand. Having run out of bullets, Francis pulls out a knife and comes at Leonard.
The Outfit Ending Explained: What do the tattoos mean?
The ending of The Outfit sees Leonard showing Francis old gang member tattoos, revealing that he was once someone like Francis and his family was killed when he tried to reform. Given Francis has two bullets in his back, Leonard is able to avoid the knife and strike Francis in the neck with his shears. As the store burns, Leonard leaves to start over elsewhere.
The Outfit: Frequently Asked Questions Explained
What was Mable hoping would happen by being a rat?
Mable sided with the lesser of the two evils – the LaFontaines. She gave them information about the Boyles, hoping the two gangs would kill each other eventually. Mable also helped the FBI plant a bug as an insurance policy in case the LaFontaines couldn’t finish off the Boyles. The gang wars made her life miserable, and so she wanted to do something to make the two groups kill each other.
What was Leonard hoping would happen by sending fake messages and the tape?
Leonard knew that Mable had been ratting. He decided to accelerate the feud between the Bolyes and LaFontaines by throwing a fake tape into the mix. He knew that when the cassette was seen in the drop box, Richie would tell Mable about it and that Mable would tell LaFontaine. Ideally, this should have gotten Francis and Richie killed, but they escaped and landed up at the store, and from there on, Leonard had to improvise.
Why did Leonard record his voice on the tape?
This one is a mystery. Leonard could have simply erased the tape and put an empty one in the drop box. Perhaps he, too, thought Mable was playing a risky game and would soon become Francis’ point of suspicion with her voice on the tape along with the others from the recording. By replacing everything with only his own voice, Leonard becomes the sole suspect and keeps Mable out of trouble in case the cassette is heard by the Boyles.
But let’s also note that back in the 50s, the tape recorder was not something the common person had access to. Only top government organizations used this tech. The small-time mobsters would have to pull many strings to listen to its contents.
How did Leonard get an extra tape?
We’re shown that the FBI replaced the tapes periodically and that Leonard recorded over one of the tapes and put that in the drop box. In the last scene, the recorder had another cassette in it. The question is, where did this extra tape come from? Had the FBI seen an empty recorder, they would have realized their bug had been found and taken away the bug. If we assume that the FBI had not yet replaced the tape, the unit should have been empty in the end. We can only assume that Leonard had made the right contacts offscreen to procure an extra cassette that he put into the device to record the events of that gory day.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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