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American Outlaws

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: American Outlaws

Starring: Colin Farrell, Gabriel Macht
Director: Les Mayfield
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: August 2001
Genres: Action, Comedy, Western

*Also starring: Scott Caan, Ali Larter, Will McCormack, Timothy Dalton, Gregory Smith, Harris Yulin, Kathy Bates, Ronny Cox

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie review
3.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review movie reviewvideo review
4.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

AMERICAN OUTLAWS, by director Les Mayfield (BLUE STREAK), turns the James-Younger outlaw gang into good guys who combine James Bond's invincibility with Robin Hood's altruism. Set to a modern beat and scripted with modern dialog, the movie is a pseudo-historical, would-be comedy. Starring a bunch of relatively indistinguishable young male leads and one token female (Ali Larter), it is a formulaic film carefully designed to appeal to just the right demographics. The guys are like a bunch of frat boys hamming it up as bank robbers. (If you're looking for a contemporary take on an old story, A KNIGHT'S TALE is much more sharply written and a whole lot more fun.)

The members of the famous gang include, Jesse and Frank James (Colin Farrell and Gabriel Macht); Cole, Bob and Jim Younger (Scott Caan, Will McCormack and Gregory Smith) and Comanche Tom (Nathaniel Arcand). We learn how, just after the end of the Civil War, they were forced into a life of killing and robbing by Yankees in general and the railroads in particular. The best acting comes from ex-Bond Timothy Dalton as the evil Allan Pinkerton.

So the film can have explosions worthy of the next DIE HARD sequel, both sides are given great dynamite. A stick of this stuff and entire buildings go up in a flash, completely demolishing everything. Employing Burma Shave type signs -- bet you didn't know that they had them way back then -- the boys also use dynamite to scare people into doing what they want.

If the movie does have a saving grace, it is this. Perhaps this undeserving film will do great box office and thus encourage the studios to make some good westerns again. This is not as crazy an idea as it might seem. Remember, it was less than a decade ago that UNFORGIVEN won a bunch of Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

AMERICAN OUTLAWS runs 1:35. It is rated PG-13 for "western violence" and would be acceptable for kids around 7 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, who thought the film was really excellent, gave it *** 1/2. He commented on how they needed to make more westerns.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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