Fictionalizing and romanticizing the exploits of Old West outlaws has been a pastime of the entertainment industry since the day the James Gang robbed its first bank in 1866. From the pulpy serialized dime publications of the Old West itself to the rock'n'roll, brat pack Billy the Kid flick "Young Guns," horseback bandits have made for popular folk heroes.
It's a simple formula: Invent some noble cause that the outlaws are fighting for so they can be passed off as gallant, cast up-and-coming pretty boy actors in the leads, cast surly types as the law (and dress them in black), toss in a few gunfights riddled with hitchin' post clichés and a pretty lass to kiss just before the credits roll -- and voila! Instant Western.
"American Outlaws" is the slick Generation Y model from this blueprint, starring scruffy baby-face Colin Farrell ("Tigerland") as a Jesse James who robs banks to hurt Yankee railroad barons that done killed his maw when she wouldn't sell the family farm so they could lay down tracks.
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