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American Outlaws (2001)
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Review Date: August 15, 2001
Director: Les Mayfield
Writer: Roderick Taylor, John Rogers
Producers: Bill Gerber, James G. Robinson
Actors:
Colin Farrell
Scott Caan
Ali Larter
Plot:
Jesse James, his brother Frank and a few of their cousins (better known as the Younger boys) comprise a gang of outlaws who rob banks, shoot guns and give to the poor. They don't want people's farms being taken over by greedy railroad folk and they don't mind killing a few people in their pursuit of that goal. Now yipee-ka-yay mother...well, something like that.
Critique:
A harmless little movie. This film isn't out to hurt anybody. It stars a bunch of unknowns, a few up-and-comers, a couple of has-beens and plenty of gunpowder, and asks that you sit down, relax and not expect much from it. If you go in with that attitude, you will likely be satisfied. Why? Well, the film offers you a little bit of fun, a little bit of action and a whole lotta nothing. If you're not interested in an original story...this might be for you. If you're not interested in getting attached to characters, caring when they die, smiling when they live...this might be for you. And if you're not interested in feeling tension, getting swept up by energy or being surprised by anything that happens in a movie...well, this might be for you. On the positive tip, the film offers authenticity, a charismatic lead, a great looking babe, a few funny moments, a nice camaraderie between the band of outlaws, at least two cool gunfight sequences and not much thinking required. On the downside, the story is pretty flimsy, the editing and pacing could not be any faster or less engaging, the deaths and the ending are wrapped up way too quickly and the dialogue is some of the worst that I've heard in any movie all year.

But then again, I was laughing through most it because it was so contrived, and actually enjoying it, despite it being for the wrong reason. Does that count or make any sense? Anyway, my personal favorite line was when one of the James brothers started shooting up a train and someone asked Timothy Dalton what all the noise was, and he snapped back, "Revenge!" Hehehehe...had me cwacking up, I tell you. Which reminds me, James Bond is friggin' hilarious in this movie. He seems to be playing a character in another movie altogether, hamming it up at every turn, and following one of the strangest arcs that I've seen in any character in quite some time (make up your mind, you bastard!). There are also a couple of complete throwaway roles given to Kathy Bates (and if you look closely, you can actually see her "cashing her paycheck" for this movie in one of the bank scenes...seriously...check it out!), as well as Ronny Cox, who respectively prove that nobody can deliver this awful dialogue and make it sound genuine.

But you're not gonna see this movie for the characters and the dialogue anyway, right? I mean, you're going to see it for the action, the gunfights, maybe even the T&A, right? (okay, so maybe that last one was just me...there is none, btw). Well, in that respect, the film does offer a few interesting shootouts, a couple of nice stunts and dare I say...a charismatic performance from Colin Farrell (oh, have you heard...this guy's going places!). So once again I find myself stuck in the middle (copyright 1992 Mr. Blonde) of my recommendation meter. On the one hand, the film offers a few entertaining moments, including some laughs and decent gunplay, but on the other hand, the dialogue blows, the supposed "romance" is bogus and the film moves faster than a speeding bullet (but without letting you catch up!). I'm sooo confused...! Actually, I'd recommend that you check it out on video where you might just enjoy it for the fluffy western that it is.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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