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!!!