Nikki Amuka-Bird as "Violet." Courtesy Focus Features

Chicago native and Oscar-winning screenwriter (The Imitation Game) Graham Moore’s directorial debut The Outfit takes its cues from the noir gangster dramas of Hollywood’s past, creating an entertaining if too clever by half 1950s crime story.

English expat and former Savile Row tailor Leonard (Mark Rylance) leaves behind a troubled past and settles down in Chicago, opening a men’s tailoring shop servicing a primarily mob-affiliated clientele. Aided by his young assistant Mable (Zoey Deutch), who longs to someday leave the neighborhood she grew up in, Leonard tolerates the use of his shop’s backroom by a local crime family as a message drop and hangout. When the hunt for a suspect rat in the organization takes a violent turn, Leonard is forced to use his wits to survive a chaotic night where trust is thinner than thread.

The Outfit is meticulously crafted but lacking in emotional resonance. Moore cleverly weaves in elements of classic crime dramas through the film, especially effectively utilizing the askew angles of the single location to create a looming sense of unease just around the corner as the narrative weaves its way along. However, much of the plot is devoted to a MacGuffin that leads to a series of reveals and counter-reveals that don’t add much in terms of depth to the characters. The film is a bit smart for its own good, twisting for the sake of twists and leaning too heavily on the use of exposition and flashbacks to reveal surprising information. Deutch is charming but isn’t given enough to work with, and Rylance offers a strong performance but is countered by uneven acting from the ensemble cast and an overall lack of development for most of the characters. R, 105 min.

Wide release in theaters