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American Outlaws

Colin Farrell , Scott Caan , Les Mayfield    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   VHS Tape
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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If you're looking for a showcase for emerging Hollywood talent, American Outlaws is just the ticket. Its handsome young stars, playing Jesse and Frank James and gang, crack wise as if they were in a contemporary high school locker room. Combining authentic costumes and sets with stunt work befitting a Jackie Chan comedy, accompanied by an "Old West" soundtrack that's anything but old and only marginally Western, the film yields a few enjoyable highlights. Seasoned genre buffs, however, will cringe at the movie's clash of visual qualities, as well as the dialogue, which, while not as heinous as that in Maverick, is on par with Young Guns in terms of non-period flavor. It's not exactly a testament to the enduring potential of the authentic Western that was realized by Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, made barely a decade before.

With all the light-hearted action and character interplay, it's hard to tell if director Les Mayfield (Flubber) is taking the material seriously, but this much is certain: the Jesse James here (played with effortless appeal by Tigerland newcomer Colin Farrell) and his brother Frank (Gabriel Macht) have almost no connection to historical fact. Nor do their fellow farm-raised gang members, the Younger brothers Cole (Scott Caan), Bob (Will McCormack), and Jim (Gregory Smith). (And Jesse's fiancée, played by Ali Larter, looks like she dropped in from a Gap commercial.) The gang's post-Civil War battle against a ruthless railroad baron (Harris Yulin) and his Pinkerton henchman (Timothy Dalton) seems arbitrary, irrational (since farmers typically welcomed railroads, not fought them), and riddled with clichés, turning the movie's bloodless shootouts into another opportunity for pretty-boy preening. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The action scenes in this movie are GREAT. I can get past all the other stupid stuff in this movie just to watch those. I think they should have cut out the part where they come back home and chat with all their friends because that just slows down the movie, but once you get past all that, the movie just keeps you jumping in your seat. Yes, the actors' lines are kind of dumb in some parts (only SOME parts!!) and Ali Larter is not the best actress, and sometimes Colin Farrell forgets he's not supposed to be Irish in this movie and Scott Caan still sounds too much like he's not out of high school yet- but hey it's not all that bad. There's a good plot and lots of humour and good fight scenes. If you're not a super overly critical and picky person you'll find yourself a decent movie that's entertaining and has a good ending. The Special Features are great. They give you a lot of inside info into the making which is always a treat to watch after seeing a good movie. Go for it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars COLIN GOES WEST May 23 2004
The incredibly gifted Colin Farrell once again pulls a good one: an Irishman playing Jesse James. But give the guy credit: he does a very good job, although not up to par to some of his other work (Recruit, Hart's War, Tigerland). Obviously not a fact-based work, AMERICAN OUTLAWS, under the astute direction of Les Mayfield, nonetheless is an entertaining western, filled with anachronistic dialogue and music, but also filled with heart, humor and adventure in mind. In this version, Jesse and his brother Frank (well envisioned by Gabriel Macht) and his cousins, the Youngers (Scott Caan, Will McCormack and Gregory Smith) are fighting in the Civil War where we get to see Frank's expert shooting and Jesse's wildass courage and outright idiocy! The war is now over so everyone returns home to find that the railroad companies are forcing farmers to sell them their land. Kathy Bates in a brief but memorable turn plays the James mother, and when she is killed by Pinkerton detectives, the boys take matters into their own.
Wayfield plays the gang as a Robin Hood, with typical jealousy on the part of Caan's Cole Younger. Timothy Dalton as Pinkerton seems James Bondish in his delivery and Harris Yulin pumps up the ham to play the dastardly railroad owner.
All in all, the film is as entertaining as it needs to be and even though Jesse and gang are almost beatified, they still have a little of that bad boy in them to make it believable, even though it's not!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Guns, guys and horses! Feb. 18 2004
By Hannah
Ok, if you want something historically accurate this film is not for you. But its not supposed to be accurate; its supposed to entertain , and boy, it does just that!
Right from the starting scene in a civil war battlefield and on to the end, the thrills never stop. It'll have you sitting on the edge of your chair or jumping up and down in excitement all the way through!
Farrell is an excellant Jesse (and very handsome too!), set off well by Scott Caan's equally brilliant Cole Younger. When Frank and Jesse James Return to Liberty, Missouri after the civil war, they find things greatly changed. The railroad is heading West and it needs their land. Jesse and Frank refuse to sell and create a spread of rebellion throughout their village. After seeing their Ma brutally murdered by the railroad men, the James brothers join forces with the Youngers and begin careers as outlaws in order to stop the railroad's advance.
The film does have a slightly romantic edge in the form of Zie, Jesse's beautiful fiancee (Ali Larter).
American Outlaws is equal to Pirates of the Caribbean for excitement, yet being shorter it doesn't even drag in the slightest. Infact, its only fault has to be that it lacks a Jack Sparrow, but with Bob Younger's wisecracks you scarcely notice it.
If, like me, you lost your heart to the West long ago you'd be a fool to miss this film. Even if you ain't lost your heart to nobody, you'd still be a fool.
So cowboys, saddle up; Let's Ride!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars American Outlaws Aug. 24 2003
Honestly, you people are not giving it enough credit that it deserves. I mean the first time that i saw it I was home alone watching HBO. It was only a few minutes into it so I got a pretty good idea of what it was about. This is supposed to be a historical fiction, duh. Which if you're not smart enough to know what it means and think that it means that everything in it is accurate and totally true you're wrong. It means that some things are true and some aren't. So ofcourse there was a gang called "The James Younger Gang". Of course the director isn't going to use the actual names so that means that they're going to change it around a bit and same with the movie. All the actors in it are great. The only thing that doesn't make it that realistic is the teeth. I mean it was a great movie but come on! If this is back in the 1800's how did they keep their teeth so white? But all the actors did a great job. Colin Farrel did an excellent job. And as always Gregory Smith was very cute and hot in this movie. This movie has a mix of all types, except horror really unless you think hanging people is considered horror, but not for this kind of movie. When I was watching it I was so into it that I didn't move the entire time. And when is came down to the crying parts I was crying before I knew what would happen next. On the DVD the behind the scenes are very interesting to watch also. And the commentary explains a lot about the movie. And why some things are the way their supposed to be for those of you who were to blind to see that it's supposed to be historical fiction which i may add once more means that things aren't always going to be accurate. But all and all this was a great action movie and extremely funny. The directors did an excellent job of casting he actors in it. Hope this helped!
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars poor quality
disc appears to be well used and skips and does not play all the way through. disapointed in the overall quality
Published 17 months ago by Rebecca Paton
3.0 out of 5 stars Jesse James in Florida!!?? Come On!
......I can get past certain anomalies, such as Ma James dying in the Pinkerton attack & Jessie & Frank serving together in the Rebel army. Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2011 by Richard Weik
3.0 out of 5 stars Pass the popcorn...
Forget about history, this is strictly eye candy...Irish sweetheart Colin Farrell and the boys ride horses, shoot guns and trade quips. Read more
Published on March 14 2005
1.0 out of 5 stars BAD, VERY BAD
Can somebody believe those baby face actors, look like tough cowboys? I've always seen men playing cowboys in films, not smooth-faced teens. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by Pablo Nadal Moron
5.0 out of 5 stars The South might've won...
I liked the movie American Outlaws. Even though hollywood took its creative liberties or whatever you want to call it with the historical facts, it still was an awesome movie! Read more
Published on May 28 2004 by Candace Jordan
This movie is the one that should'nt have been made. No it's not historically accurate, But that's not the big problem(I liked the "Young Guns" movies)The problem with... Read more
Published on May 3 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Shameless yet entertaining glorification of outlaws.
If you want an absolute shameless glorification of Jesse James, his brother and associates with some great action sequences thrown in then this is for you. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2004 by LT Sharpe
3.0 out of 5 stars yeehaww
friends rob banks and are wanted outlaws, Timothy Dalton wants them dead and kills their families, including Kathy Bates. Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2003 by Michael Bolts
5.0 out of 5 stars good
this movie was better than i expected it to be. people said that it was bad and apparently the general public didn't repsond to it quite well. Read more
Published on Aug. 27 2003 by "schu711"
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