Gang-bangers

American Outlaws

American Outlaws

Directed by Les Mayfield

(Colin Farrell, Scott Caan, Ali Larter, Timothy Dalton)

Rated: PG13

 

There’s not a lot of good things I can say about American Outlaws. But hey, there’s not a lot of bad things either. The story is simple enough: Jesse James (Colin Farrell) and gang rob banks to thwart evil railroad tycoon Thaddeus Rains (Harris Yulin). When a bad guy says, “Let’s teach these podunks what happens when they interfere with the righteousness of progress” his name has got to be ‘Thaddeus.’

That aside, if you’ve seen one western, you’ve probably seen this one. Hold ups, horses, slow motion walking shots and plenty of old fashioned shootouts. The spin on this, like the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde, is that these criminals are righteous and gallant in their Robin Hood endeavors, and only kill bad guys who are shooting at them. The relatives of Bonnie and Clyde’s victims created quite a controversial stir when the movie came out, cursing the movie for “ennobling the murderers.” I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that those who died during the James gang tirade don’t have any living relatives to fuss.

The only diversion from the rudimentary western is the use of music. Jesse and the boys are shooting up a town and the all of a sudden the “only 2 days away from retirement” guitar riff from Lethal Weapon comes blazing in. It’s as if suddenly there’s amps in the 1870s. Now a change in the norm (especially westerns) is good for mankind, but this kind of anachronistic music just doesn’t sit well with me. Anytime a guitar solo from a monster ballad would start up, my genetic makeup would shudder.

One alluring aspect in this flick is the actor who plays Jesse James, Colin Farrell. The Irishman hides his brogue well for this role and is hard not to like up there. This guy is certainly a rising screen presence. For the thirty or so people lucky enough to have seen Tigerland, you know what I’m talking about.

– Sean McGrath

American Outlaws opens today in theatres nationwide.