American Outlaws is brain-dead but fun, an Abercrombie & Fitched look at frontier life. Loud and narratively muddled, Les Mayfield’s film attempts a postmodern operation, homing in on a post-Civil War Jesse James (Colin Farrell) defending Missouri from a railroad company hellbent on expanding west. He’s a mama’s boy itching to mend Confederate wounds, a ne’er-do-well Robin Hood seeking to expose the morally corrupt, colonialist ways of an overeager government. The characterizations are predictable (prepubescent lads dream of riding with the big boys and Timothy Dalton’s Allan Pinkerton comes to respect the loveable Jesse by film’s end), and for what’s essentially an MTV-look at the past, it’s strangely undersexed (nary a breast or ass shot throughout). One fight sequence is served martial-arts style, with dynamite shattering some Yankee pride. Equally explosive: Kathy Bates plays God-loving Ma James to humorous effect while Ali Larter serves up feminism Little House on the Prairie-style. American Outlaws knows how to have fun, especially when Will McCormack’s Bob Younger aims to drum up his most-wanted notoriety. Fore sure, there are worse ways for teenagers to connect with history than this cheeky, cornball paean to James and his pals robbing banks and breaking out of chains.
- Warner Bros.
- 100 min
- Les Mayfield
- John Rogers, Roderick Taylor
- Colin Farrel, Scott Caan, Ali Larter, Timothy Dalton, Gabriel Macht, Will McCormack, Gregory Smith, Kathy Bates
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