5 Southern friends return home when the war ends 1865. But Yankee soldiers and Pinkerton are busy helping a railroad baron grab land from farmers along the planned railroad west. The 5 frien... Read all5 Southern friends return home when the war ends 1865. But Yankee soldiers and Pinkerton are busy helping a railroad baron grab land from farmers along the planned railroad west. The 5 friends fight back.5 Southern friends return home when the war ends 1865. But Yankee soldiers and Pinkerton are busy helping a railroad baron grab land from farmers along the planned railroad west. The 5 friends fight back.
Gabriel Macht plays Jesse's older brother Frank and Timothy Dalton, of James Bond fame plays Alan Pinkerton, the man responsible for hunting down the James gang. Macht plays Frank James as the older and much wiser brother. He calmly solves disputes, writes and plans many of the heists and robberies and helps Jesse court the love of his life. Yet he is not there to take the spotlight away from his brother or from Cole Younger. Frank is basically a peacemaker. I enjoyed Macht's performance and when he was on screen the picture was a lot more interesting. He adds some needed credibility to a somewhat lame film. When you have great actresses like Kathy Bates looking disasterous in their small roles, you know you are in trouble. I don't know if you can attribute all of this to the director, Les Mayfield, but it has to start somewhere. The actors weren't really allowed to shine and maybe a few more takes should have been filmed before deciding on which one to use.
Two other actors stood out as well and one of them was Timothy Dalton. He seemed a little out of place in this film. He just looked as though he was one step ahead of everyone else and just seemed to know something that we didn't. He could make you think that just by a smirk, or a tone of voice or a tip of his black fedora. He is evil, conniving and yet he has some admiration for the James/Younger gang. He can empathize with their situation but his job is to hunt them down and kill them. I would like to see Dalton in more roles like this, he was fun to watch in this film. Also intriguing to watch is Will McCormack as Bob Younger. He is unfamiliar to me but anyone who watches The Sopranos religiously will recognize him from a few episodes. I thought he was believable in his smaller role as one of the Younger brothers. At first he comes off as being a little slow, but his character builds towards the end and eventually he turns out to be one of the stronger characters.
It's a shame that American Outlaws couldn't build a better script around these three characters because they seemed better than the script they were given.
American Outlaws isn't a bad film, it's not really a great one either but it is worth a look. If anything, it will make you want to go home and pop in your copy of Tombstone and remember what it is like to have compelling Western characters.
6 out of 10--could be better, could be worse.
- Aug 24, 2001