Those days are gone. Now we have crap like Wild Wild West to pass for the western. And that record is not improved with the unbearable tale of American Outlaws.
Outlaws is yet another re-telling of the Jesse James legend, courtesy of B-movie king James G. Robinson (producer of such classics as Wrongfully Accused and Chill Factor). Delayed since the spring, this version stars the Irish hunka hunka burning love Colin Farrell (the best part of Joel Schumacher's Tigerland) as the bad-ass Jesse James. Alas, any sense of his character has been left on the ranch, leaving us with only cute chicks like Ali Larter (minus the whipped cream) to watch.
The spin this time around: Fresh from serving as Southern militiamen in the Civil War, Jesse James (Farrell), his brother Frank (Gabriel Macht), and his pal Cole Younger (Scott Caan) lay down their arms and head home to Missouri to tend the family farms after the war has ended. But trouble is brewing in their small town of Liberty when evil railroad baron Thaddeus Rains (Harris Yulin) and his cronies Rollin Parker (Terry O'Quinn) and Allan Pinkerton (Timothy Dalton) demand the boys turn over their lands to the railroads. The Jameses and the Youngers then join forces to fight the railroad -- by robbing banks up and down Missouri, thus cutting off the railroad's financial surplus and playing Robin Hood to the local people.
Along the way, the boys squabble over who's the cutest of the gang, who's the most popular cowboy in the gang, and who ought to go on MTV's Total Request Live. They rob numerous banks with identical interiors, always with the kindest of hearts, strutting in their grungy dusters as Moby songs play in the background. The witty banter they share could be plastered within a Hallmark card.
The biggest disappointment here lies in the acting of Colin Farrell. After a great job in Tigerland, Farrell walks through this role easier then Nicolas Cage in Gone in 60 Seconds. And his American accent rivals Richard Gere's Irish accent in The Jackal. Combined with feeling like Bonanza: The Teen Years, this homogenized production (toned down to get the ever-popular PG-13 rating) gives us an invincible Jesse James that quickly grows tiresome and boring. The unbearable villains courtesy of Timothy Dalton and Thaddeus Rains spend the entire film proclaiming that everyone should be hanged, sucking out any energy left in the film.
Not to mention: The real story of Jesse James and his gang bears no resemblance to the plot of American Outlaws. Instead, the movie is full of old, outrageous tales about the Wild West -- tales which went out of style in 5-cent magazines about a century ago.
Robbin' banks is, like, hard and stuff.
Run time: 94 mins
In Theaters: Friday 17th August 2001
Box Office USA: $11.9M
Box Office Worldwide: $13.7M
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 14%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 89
IMDB: 6.0 / 10
Director: Les Mayfield
Producer: James G. Robinson, Bill Gerber
Starring: Colin Farrell as Jesse James, Scott Caan as Cole Younger, Ali Larter as Zerelda 'Zee' Mimms, Gabriel Macht as Frank James, Gregory Smith as Jim Younger, Kathy Bates as Ma James, Timothy Dalton as Allan Pinkerton, Harris Yulin as Thaddeus Rains, President Rock Northern Rail Road, Will McCormack as Bob Younger, Ronny Cox as Doc Mimms, Zee's Dad, Terry O'Quinn as Rollin H. Parker - Rains' Gopher, Nathaniel Arcand as Comanche Tom, Ty O'Neal as Clell Miller, Joe Stevens as Loni Packwood, Barry Tubb as Captain Malcolm