Warning: minor spoilers for Outside The Wire are in play. If you haven’t seen the film yet, consider this your warning to head back inside the wire until you’ve caught up.
Netflix’s recent action blockbuster Outside The Wire is a fast-paced adventure set in the near future, where an android played by Anthony Mackie and a disgraced drone pilot played by Damson Idris team up to stop a major catastrophe. With the fate of the world, and control of a nuclear stockpile on the line, these military men will stop at nothing to see their objective through to its successful end. However, even though the resolution of the quest at the heart of director Mikael Håfström’s race to save humanity is pretty simple, there’s an odd-but-interesting question that’s left unanswered; and indeed, it deserves a clarification as soon as possible. So, just what the hell does G.U.M.P. stand for anyway?
Apparently I wasn’t the only journalist asking this question of both Namson Idris and Anthony Mackie, as by time I was on deck to participate in the Outside The Wire junket for CinemaBlend, that query had run through the room more than a couple times. Who would have thought that something so innocuous would have made so much hay? Yet, many who have seen this January release on Netflix have probably pondered that very same matter numerous times. On this particular front, I have some good news and some bad news to report, with entertainment value to be gained by both sides of this particular coin. Before we dive too deeply into this subject though, let’s quickly go over what a G.U.M.P. is.
What Is A G.U.M.P. In Outside The Wire?
Within the world of Outside The Wire’s not-too-distant future in 2036, mechanized warfare is pretty sophisticated. In addition to the armed drones (that exist this very day), and human pilots like Damson Idris’ Lt. Thomas Harp, there are some other robotic tools of the trade that are pure sci-fi. One such device of that nature is an android named Leo (Anthony Mackie), who is a top-secret prototype that looks more human than some other humans. Still, the bridge between human and machine comes in a corps of mech drones that can be sent in when the chips are down, to provide cover fire for the human boots on the ground. These are what the film calls “G.U.M.P.s,” and even with a sizable amount of screen time being given to these bulky beasts, no explanation is given as to what that name means.
What Do Anthony Mackie And Damson Idris Know About The G.U.M.P.s?
That is where the negative side of where my digging into this rather odd mystery comes into play. As it stands in this very moment, neither Damson Idris or Anthony Mackie know the exact reason these robotic peacekeepers are called “G.U.M.P.s.” However, as you’ve seen in the footage above, that didn’t mean there was a lack of knowledge or creativity on hand for the film’s leads to answer. And in the case of Idris’s answer, he thinks that these Outside The Wire creations speak for themselves when it comes to their enigmatic naming:
For me, it just sounds right, man. I bet Mackie knows exactly why, but for me it always just sounded right. Like just the way that these big heavy brutish machines are just like, 'Gump! Gump! Gump!' … I’m sure Mackie’s got a better answer.
You can practically hear it in your ears right now: a multitude of metal feet marching forward in unison. They aren’t too fast, because they are pretty heavy, and can take a pounding from artillery fire. But in those first moments that they walk into the field of battle, it’s almost assured that when the enemy hears that “Gump! Gump! Gump!” in the air, there’s going to be some questioning of whether or not those in opposition of the U.S. Military should be in that exact spot they’re standing in.
However, as Damson Idris alluded, his Outside The Wire co-star did have a pretty good answer as to whether or not he knew what “G.U.M.P.” stood for. It’s thanks to Anthony Mackie that I’m even allowed to stylize the name of these mechs in the correct way, as he clued me into the fact that the name comes from an acronym. The only problem is, the specific words that form this name weren’t easy to recall, as you’ll read below:
I can’t even remember! G.U.M.P was an acronym for something. I can’t remember exactly what it stood for, but it’s like, ‘Mechanical Protocol,’ mechanical something for the military. But G.U.M.P. was an acronym, that’s how the word came about.
It might not seem like much, but Outside The Wire’s lack of clarifying the name of these steadfast tin soldiers is a bit of a nagging question that lingers long after the credits have rolled. While there’s a slight potential for a follow-up by the time Damson Idris and Anthony Mackie play their entire deck of action movie cards, the universe of this 2021 Netflix original filmdoes feel like it could also very much be an open and shut case. Which means that we may never get the full answer that spells out what “G.U.M.P.” is supposed to stand for. So unless someone wants to step forward and prove me wrong, I’m just going to say that it stands for “Grounded Urban Mechanical Peacekeepers,” and get back to pondering the larger unanswered questions that cinema has to offer; like whether I’m Team Kong or Team Godzilla.