Westerns typically are somewhat cheesy, considering that a lot of people that moved out west were not American Caucasians, but when you have a western made up of an MTV cast, you know you're in trouble.
American Outlaws, like many movies before it, tells the story of Jesse James and his team of bank robbers. The movie starts out rather interestingly, with Jesse James and his crew fighting union soldiers at the end of the Civil War. Apparently, James is a good enough shot to kill about twenty soldiers while riding a horse out in the open. It was an entertaining action scene, though. Then, after the war is over, just like in so many western movies, the evil railroad company comes to confiscate land, and Jesse James is glamorized for stealing from banks to keep the railroad from doing anything to his town.
The story is clichéd beyond belief, but American Outlaws wins in the end with some entertaining action and moderately funny characters, the likes of which I expected. Obviously the movie isn't very historically accurate, and I wasn't expecting much in the way of script, but there was enough little perks here and there to keep me interested.
The thing that really hurts American Outlaws is the dreadful acting. Colin Farrell, who did an amazing job in Joel Schumacher's war film Tigerland, is only presentable here, possibly restricted by the script (but after coming off a movie like Tigerland, you'd think that he would be able to grab up a better movie). Ali Larter, who has a fairly small part, and who I usually really like, is really dreadful. She is not a cowgirl. The rest of the cast either don't try, or are trying and just not doing a good job. This includes Timothy Dalton, who plays the most clichéd villain I've seen in a long time. And why the hell did Kathy Bates join this movie?
American Outlaws has some good action and comedy here and there, but bad acting and a bad script keep it from becoming anything more than a B-grade, moderately entertaining western film. At least it fits in with the rest of the summer's fares.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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