American Outlaws doesn’t deviate much from the standard storyline of most recent western movies involving elements like powerful antagonists (in this case a railroad baron), deeds, robberies, outlaws, prostitutes, and rewards.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t break beyond the elements to give the audience real appeal or interest in the movie. The story tries to entertain and inject modern-day elements and dialogue into the Western era in the United States which may not sit well with true Hollywood Western movie fans.
Timothy Dalton (License to Kill, The Living Daylights), stars as Western figure Allen Pinkerton, complete with a Scottish accent. An antagonist who riles up the blood of a group of young ranchers returning from the Civil War.
Scott Caan playing Cole Younger and his brothers are played by Will McCormack (Boiler Room), Gregory Smith (Small Soldiers, The Patriot). Ali Larter (Varsity Blues, Final Destination) plays a beautiful love interest with a bad name, Zee Mimms. Ronny Cox (Beverly Hills Cop, Total Recall) plays Zee’s father, Doc.
Colin Farrell (Tigerland) and Gabriel Macht have important roles within the young gang of ranchers. The growing prominence of their characters helps drive the story to an average climax, but overall the movie doesn’t have much of an impact. Kathy Bates (Misery, Titanic) plays an important family role, mainly to Farrell. Her character definitely plays to her stern, tough persona very well.
Director Les Mayfield (Blue Streak, Flubber) has talent, but his final product, thought fairly entertaining, doesn’t have the real emotion and sense of heroism as other action/western movies. Some action sequences near the end are pretty good, but it’s not worth wading through all the previous weak dialogue among the young ranchers and the subpar storyline that doesn’t have any real emotion.
The male characters don’t have much appeal which hurts the movie’s chances at succeeding commercially and the “been there done that” feeling of the story makes previous movies like Young Guns look like a classic compared to this movie.
Not recommended (* out of four stars) for fans of the true western genre that accurately depicts its history and recommended with many reservations (*1/2) for general action fans who want to kill a couple hours. The important historical elements of the movie definitely do not reach their full potential impact on the audience and story. Hopefully the next young generation western, most likely Texas Rangers starring James Van Der Beek (originally scheduled for a March 2002 release, but was released on November 30, 2001), will fare better than this weak offering. Rated PG-13 for language and violence.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler