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American Outlaws
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American Outlaws More at IMDbPro »

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25 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Been there, done that...but never quite as bad.

1/10
Author: will-105 from Los Angeles
4 August 2001

This film was held up for release more than once and now it's apparent why. Dreck!!! This dressed up "B" oater is a sobering reminder of how really well done films used to be. Even the bad ones were better than this. While it aspires to something profound and "hip", the overwrought and corny dialogue, the bombardment of cliches, and the horrid soundtrack and use of current music (Moby in 1865? Puh-lease!!!) make it anything but. The script smacks of something that might have been written for Audie Murphy or Jeffrey Hunter in 1964 and soundly rejected. By comparison "Young Guns" looks like "The Wild Bunch" (Yikes!!!). The filmmakers were apparently trying the "outlaw as rock star" motif but Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" set a high water mark that handily drowns these guys. But, like "Billy" in the earlier work, everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, loves Jesse. It's sometimes hard to tell who wants to sleep with him more; his brother Frank, partner Cole Younger, or Zee Mimms, the purty gal he aims tuh marry. But fear not, bible thumpers, ain't no sinnin' goin' on here. Just good old-fashion killin'. The only people sleeping together would be the audience. The bad guys love him, too. They must, because whether it be at point blank range with a pistol, or with a Gatling gun during a Civil War battle , they just can seem to want to hurt this guy. Either that, or they're close to being the worst shots in film history. And woe be to those that do shoot at him 'cause all Jesses's got to do is smile. See him smile and it's a guarantee that these hombres ain't long for this world, by cracky. Remember the smile, folks, it's integral to our hero's save-the-day and "this one's fer Ma" antics. Les is a usually competent director and a nice guy to boot (old classmate o' mine). I hope he can recover from the savaging that the paid critics will give him. If you want to see the James gang saga told in a good movie save your money, stay at home, and checkout "The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid" or "The Long Riders".

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16 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Probably suit The Younger generation.

7/10
Author: beau geste 38 from United Kingdom
28 January 2006

Many of today's younger viewers probably won't know too much about the James Boys, and The Youngers. So they can enjoy this for what it is, "a funny, bullet dodging romp, through the wild west. ". However the older generation should probably steer clear of this one. The Goodies are Baddies, and the Baddies are Goodies. Some of the one liners could have been written by the writers of Joey or Friends, with additional material by Mel Brooks, who might have called it "Men in Strides" I notice that the stunt men and special effects (which seem mandatory in today's films,) got all the awards. Figures about right. Jesse's escape from the train is strictly Van Damme. So, if you've never heard of Bob Ford, watch this, you'll probably enjoy it. However, if you are old enough to remember Bob, and Tyrone Power, I have a feeling that you won't.

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20 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

It's not Tombstone, but it'll do

6/10
Author: Dan Grant (dan.grant@bell.ca) from Toronto, Ontario
24 August 2001

There is just something about seeing a western that has real characters in it. What is it about outlaws that peaks our interest? What was it about Jesse James that made people love him so much? Was he really as benevolent as he was made to be in this film? Was he really as crazy and theological as he was in the Rob Lowe/Bill Paxton film Frank and Jesse? I'm not really sure, I would probably have to guess he was somewhere in between. In American Outlaws Jesse is played rather blandly by Colin Ferrel. I can honestly say that I wasn't overly interested in Jesse James in this film the way I was in Frank and Jesse. Rob Lowe had a much more complete interpretation of outlaw Jesse James. But what may be lacking in the leads is more than made up for in some of the supporting characters, and for that I would say that American Outlaws is almost worth seeing. Not quite, but if you have nothing better to do with $10.00, go see this film.

Gabriel Macht plays Jesse's older brother Frank and Timothy Dalton, of James Bond fame plays Alan Pinkerton, the man responsible for hunting down the James gang. Macht plays Frank James as the older and much wiser brother. He calmly solves disputes, writes and plans many of the heists and robberies and helps Jesse court the love of his life. Yet he is not there to take the spotlight away from his brother or from Cole Younger. Frank is basically a peacemaker. I enjoyed Macht's performance and when he was on screen the picture was a lot more interesting. He adds some needed credibility to a somewhat lame film. When you have great actresses like Kathy Bates looking disasterous in their small roles, you know you are in trouble. I don't know if you can attribute all of this to the director, Les Mayfield, but it has to start somewhere. The actors weren't really allowed to shine and maybe a few more takes should have been filmed before deciding on which one to use.

Two other actors stood out as well and one of them was Timothy Dalton. He seemed a little out of place in this film. He just looked as though he was one step ahead of everyone else and just seemed to know something that we didn't. He could make you think that just by a smirk, or a tone of voice or a tip of his black fedora. He is evil, conniving and yet he has some admiration for the James/Younger gang. He can empathize with their situation but his job is to hunt them down and kill them. I would like to see Dalton in more roles like this, he was fun to watch in this film. Also intriguing to watch is Will McCormack as Bob Younger. He is unfamiliar to me but anyone who watches The Sopranos religiously will recognize him from a few episodes. I thought he was believable in his smaller role as one of the Younger brothers. At first he comes off as being a little slow, but his character builds towards the end and eventually he turns out to be one of the stronger characters.

It's a shame that American Outlaws couldn't build a better script around these three characters because they seemed better than the script they were given.

American Outlaws isn't a bad film, it's not really a great one either but it is worth a look. If anything, it will make you want to go home and pop in your copy of Tombstone and remember what it is like to have compelling Western characters.

6 out of 10--could be better, could be worse.

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27 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

A whitewashing of history

1/10
Author: Brad Hodges from New Jersey
23 December 2002

This movie made me angry. Not just because it is a routine Western, filled with cliches, but because it is hard to imagine that in 2001, the writers of this embarrassment wouldn't give any regard to history. I realize it's just a movie, and there's a long tradition of glamorizing the murderers and psychopaths of the American west, but there has been enough research lately about Jesse James that makes this film's treatment of him as Robin Hood an outrage. Let's be clear: Jesse James was in essence a terrorist. He rode with Bloody Bill Anderson and William Quantrill, who were Confederate raiders who performed unspeakable atrocities in the name of slavery. James was no Robin Hood. He was in it for the money. The gang is represented in this movie as good-hearted guys just doin' what's right and carin' bout their mamas. Horse-hockey! Read the new biography by T.J. Stiles to get the true story. A realistic movie about James would be fascinating, but is beyond the talent of the crew involved in this boil on the butt of cinema. And besides, didn't Young Guns make this unnecessary?

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12 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

don't waste your time unless...

3/10
Author: skurtz14 from atlanta, georgia
20 August 2001

...you think Jesse James was a loser and should be portrayed that way on the big screen to set the record straight. ...you like knowing what's going to happen in the next scene because the screenplay was targeted for someone with the I.Q. of a mop. ...you like to be reassured that just in case the action of the movie isn't easy enough to follow along with, you can count on characters spelling out what is going to happen in the next BIG EXCITING SCENE. ...the only other movie playing is Pearl Harbor.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Revisionist and contemporary study about famous bandits : Jesse , Frank James and Younger brothers

6/10
Author: ma-cortes
29 January 2013

This is a slight and plain biopic about Jesse James who ranks with Billy the Kid as the most famous of Western outlaws . Legend and folklore have cast him as a Robin Hood , a good boy forced by circumstances to follow a criminal life . The picture provides a simple portrait of Jesse and his band , as they move from Civil War to there territory becoming into demi-legends . Jesse (Colin Farrell) and Frank (Gabriel Match) joined the Confederate guerrillas of Quantrill and learned to kill in ruthless company . Jesse and Frank along with cousins Cole (Scott Caan) , Bob (Will McCormack) and Jim Younger return from War to find mommy (Kathy Bates) and family threatened by railroad . Then a Midwest town to be aware that mean railroad barons (Terry O'Quinn , Harris Yulin) have captured the deeds to their homesteads without their knowledge , as a group of young ranchers unite forces to take back what is rightfully theirs . As Pinkerton (Timothy Dalton) detectives were hired by the railroad company to hunt down Jesse and Frank . So James Brothers commence to robbin' banks and trains to help out the poor folks who been done wrong . In the course of their revenge , they will become the object of the biggest manhunt in the history of the Old West . Along the way , Jesse courts attractive young , filly Zee (Ali Later) . As their fame grows, so will the legend of their leader, a young outlaw by the name of Jesse James.

A sophomoric wild bunch look-alike that ends up resembling a Western version of Bowery Boys . Features various passable acting by a popular group of today's known stars . This is an average look about the known story of the West's greatest bandit along with Frank , Cole Younger and brothers . Contemporary-style Western with acceptable performances and professional direction by Les Mayfield who creates some good action scenes . Jesse is middlingly played , though sometimes overacting , by Colin Farrel, he plays as a likable, sympathetic, attractive young and favourite with girls . This passable Western packs lots of action , shootouts, and explosive violence . Taut excitement throughout , beautifully photographed by Russell Boyd and with spectacular bloodletting but realized with some flaws . atmospheric and evocative musical score by Trevor Ravin . The story is similarly to ¨The young guns I and II¨ with loads of noisy action and violence . The film gets spectacular shoot em'up , thrills , exciting horse pursuits ; it's entertaining , although nothing new but displays an ordinary pace and with no originality . People have been writing the obituary for a few years now , but ¨American outlaws¨ cannot be the bullet in the genre's back .

The picture was based on actual events , these are the following : At the war's end in 1865 , Jesse rode in to surrender and was shot and seriously wounded by a Union soldier . It is believed that Jesse took part in his first robbery in 1866 when a dozen men held up the bank in Liberty , Missouri . A bank cashier was killed in the raid and a reward was offered for each of the James brothers . In 1873 Jesse and his band derailed and robbed a train on the Rock Island line . Jesse married his cousin Zerelda , who bore him two children . Pinkerton detectives were contracted to chase Jesse and Frank , the agents surrounded the home , believing they to be there , tossed a bomb and the explosion killed Jesse's young half-brother . This outrage brought much sympathy for the brothers . On 1876 Jesse and Frank in company the three Younger Brothers , attempted a bank robbery at Northfield , Minnnesota , and walked in disaster . The alerted citizens opened fire on the raiders , of the eight bandits involved , three were killed and three Younger brothers were captured . On 3 April 1882 Bob Ford , a new member of the gang , treacherously shot Jesse dead in back of the head in his home at St Joseph , Missouri .

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

lightweight, predictable waste of time

3/10
Author: NorCal_1963 from United States
23 September 2007

Don't bother watching this lightweight, predictable, boring waste of time. Like "King Solomon's Mines" was tepid rip-off of "Indiana Jones", this movie is a rip-off of "Young Guns". This movie belongs in the filing cabinet with "The Apple Dumpling Gang", which would be more enjoyable to watch. It falls flat in it's attempt at bringing humor to the tale of the James-Younger gang. I cannot imagine the ruthless killers taking time to stand around in the middle of robbing a bank and discussing who is the better shot or who should receive more credit for their criminal activities. OK to watch if you have absolutely nothing better to do for a couple of hours, otherwise, skip it.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

It's not good, but it's good fun

Author: uglykidmatt (uglykidmatt@hotmail.com)
28 August 2001

The legend of Jesse James is one of those stories that people just never seem to get tired of. Every few years, we see a new cinematic version of the life of James, a former Confederate raider who became a folk hero after he turned to banditry following the war. The latest iteration of the story is "American Outlaws", a red-blooded B-style shoot-'em-up that offers little in the way of historical accuracy and even less in the way of storytelling elegance, but does serve up plenty of action and lots of fun.

Jesse (hot Irish newcomer Colin Farrell) makes a name for himself on the battlefields of the Civil War as an unpredictable live wire willing to do anything to get the Yankees. After the war, he and his levelheaded sure-shot brother Frank (Gabriel Macht) return to their home in Liberty, Missouri, only to find the railroad coming through town. The big rail money, backed up by hard-skulled detective Allen Pinkerton (a glowering Timothy Dalton), wants to buy the James farm, but the boys aren't selling. They didn't shed their blood on the battlefields just to give their home over to a railroad. Soon, however, it's back to war when a bomb destroys their farmhouse and the only way to get revenge is to strap on your guns and ride. As they rob railroad payrolls and bedevil the authorities, Jesse, Frank, and their gang get something besides revenge: they become authentic American legends.

It's a story every schoolboy knows. Hell, Bobby Brady was a Jesse James aficionado. Still, it's been a while since we've had a telling of the story, and this one does a fairly good job of keeping us entertained. Les Mayfield is not the obvious choice to direct a western (his most notable previous film was "Encino Man" with Pauly Shore), but he actually does a decent job. He handles the action sequences with flair, particularly a crackerjack bank shootout and Jesse's escape from the rail baron's train. The film's period accoutrements are all present and accounted for, the costumes and guns appropriately impressive, the cinematography by Russell Boyd all vibrant browns and golds.

There are also some nice performances from the mostly young cast. Colin Farrell makes Jesse a likable, oddly sweet kid whose charm is just as deadly as his gun. Scott Caan matches him as the hotheaded Cole Younger (more on him later), and Gabriel Macht is a sensible and solid Frank, his performance the best thing in the film. Ali Larter is nice eye candy as Jesse's lady love, but the story really gives her nothing to do, and while Dalton growls impressively behind a grungy-looking beard, he doesn't really get the chance to do anything evil.

This is where "American Outlaws" starts shooting itself in the foot. There is no real sense of a concrete enemy for the boys to battle, a true and implacable adversary. Harris Yulin blusters and barks as the railroad baron, but he never truly emerges as a figure of loathing. As a result, the film's finale is unfocused and confusing. Pinkerton's final action in particular makes no sense to me at all. Is he just giving a cocky young kid the benefit of the doubt? Is he doing it because Jesse's wife is hot? I don't get it.

"American Outlaws" is a frustrating film in some ways because everything you like is balanced by something that rubs you the wrong way. A great Civil War battle opening is marred by the sparseness of the Union ranks (Mayfield should have called for more extras that day). An appropriately Coplandesque score by Trevor Rabin is almost wholly sabotaged by the inclusion of a Moby song (MOBY!) at both the beginning and the end of the film. It almost makes you want to grab a six-gun yourself and blaze away at the troublemakers, leaving behind only those who are contributing admirably to the enterprise.

Still, I've come to expect the good with the bad this summer, and "American Outlaws" joins "Tomb Raider" and "The Mummy Returns" as a piece of escapism that is better than the critics' comments indicate, but not as good as it probably should be. Still, with these flouncy dull MTV teen comedies STILL dominating the marketplace, it's nice to see someone delivering a good old fashioned genre piece. In these parlous cinematic times, even a problematic western is better than no western at all.

I close with a bit of real history: after they stopped riding with the James boys, Cole Younger and his outlaws kept going, and one time even attempted to rob a farmhouse in their area. The woman of the house got the drop on them, though; she slammed a window on a gang member's hand, costing him two of his fingers. She survived to live a healthy long life, and have children and grandchildren of her own. One of those grandchildren was my grandmother. Someone should put THAT in a movie. It would make me happy.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps the Worst movie ever made.

1/10
Author: Tiger_Mark from The Greater Southwest
16 April 2003

Was this a joke? I am serious, was this a joke? Where are the Mystery Science Theater Boys when you need them? This is a Western about Jesse James. Of course, you might not have realized, Jesse wears Gucci clothing, has his teeth capped, a designer haircut and always hangs out in rooms that must be lit by 1,500 kerosene lamps. Of course, his gang consists of a number of male models that are just "ahhh shucks" funny. They really are some good ol' boys, that look real good. The dialog is quite refreshing as well. I never knew that they used the words "suck" and "cool" so often in the late 1800's. You see, this movie is educational. Silly me, I used to think James was a ruthless outlaw and racist. 0 out of ****

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Avoid at all costs!

3/10
Author: Randall Cameron from Sana'a, Yemen
31 March 2007

Why did Colin Farrell make this movie? At his level of talent, he can't need the work so badly.

Pitiful story that tries to romanticize a gang of violent criminals, putting 21st century people and attitudes in period costumes. It does not work.

The "action" is so unbelievable from the first two minutes, it sets the tone for the entire film. A group of Confederates are ambushed by a vastly superior Union force, and the Jameses and Youngers manage to singlehandedly save the day, using John Cage style action tricks. Except that 200 incompetent guys with rifles would have turned them into hamburger.

Skip it unless someone pays you to watch.

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