Guilty Pleasure – American Outlaws

by Alan Rapp on June 26, 2020

in Home Video

  • Title: American Outlaws
  • IMDb: link

American Outlaws Blu-ray reviewBy any objective standard, you can’t call 2001’s American Outlaws a good movie. The western is historically inaccurate in countess ways, features over-the-top performances from a number of actors, feels far too modern in tone and style, is punctuated with juvenile humor, and ignores almost any context for its characters’ actions and place in history. What you can say about American Outlaws is it’s dumb fun in the style of Young Guns (which obviously inspired it). Heavy on dumb, yes, but still fun.

Opening at the end of the Civil War, which involves some heroic foolishness by our leading man almost single-handedly winning the group’s final battle, the film stars Colin Farrell as Jesse James, Gabriel Macht as his brother Frank, and Scott Caan and Will McCormack as Cole and Bob Younger. The weary soldiers return home from war only to find railroad baron Thaddeus Rains (Harris Yulin) pushing families off their farms in the name of progress through bribes, theft, arson, threats, and murder.

From Confederate soldiers who apparently hold no animosity towards the Union to Robin Hood style thieves, the film makes a quick transition into the men’s new lives. After a couple of altercations where it becomes obvious they cannot coexist, Jesse and his friends become outlaws and begin to attack the railroad by robbing banks, trains, and supply yards which feed it. Known as the Cole-Younger Gang, they’ll pick up a few new members and have their antics highlighted by more daredevil shenanigans by Jesse and giving back money to the local farmers who help thwart the effort of Rains and Allan Pinkerton (Timothy Dalton) to find them.

Ronny Cox and Ali Larter co-star as a local doctor and his spirited daughter who becomes Jesse’s love interest when the film remembers she exists. Kathy Bates is also given a small role as Jesse and Frank’s mother, offering the same kind of bawdy over-the-top performance as Dalton and Yulin gleefully chewing down every piece of scenery in sight. American Outlaws is a novelty at best, but on a lazy Saturday afternoon there are worse ways to spend your time. The film is has been released on Blu-ray and DVD, and is available on multiple streaming platforms.

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