This film has nothing to do with history and nothing to do with actual emotion.
Prior to "American Outlaws," Les Mayfield directed the following films:"Blue Streak", "Flubber" and "Encino Man".
Just how many horribly bad do your movies have to get before they toss you into the LA Freeway or give you the job as manservent to Courtney Love? Why hasn't Mayfield been struck by lightning? I'll tell you why - because there is no God. We live in a universe that respects nothing but ambivalence and chaos.
Not that I really care, since fictional films don't need to be true to actual history, but I'm pretty sure the once the makers of "American Outlaws" fact-checked the names of Jesse (Colin Farrel) and Frank James (Gabriel Macht) and confirmed that some banks were robbed, they just made the rest up from scratch. The film does link the brothers to Quantril's Raiders, but I saw Ang Lee's film on the subject, "Ride with the Devil," and he never drew a connection to Jesse and Frank James. Ang Lee is probably more intelligent than Les Mayfield by a factor of a googol, so one would assume that had Lee found such a connection, he would have mentioned it.
The main difference between Jesse and Frank is that Jesse is charismatic and handsome while Frank is book-learned. Thus, Jesse gets to roll in the hay with Zee Mimms (Ali Larter) while Frank quotes Shakespeare. And isn't "zee mimms" a German euphemism for vagina or something? "Vee go to zee oarhouse for zee mimms." I've heard Germans say that, I'm pretty sure.
Jesse, Frank and their buddies the Youngers -- Cole (Scott Caan) and Bob (Will McCormack) -- along with their trusted Indian companion, Comanche Tom (Nathaniel Arcand), return from fighting in the war only to discover that they have to protect their homes from the advance of the railroad. The railroad employs Allan Pinkerton (Timothy Dalton) to supply the muscle, prompting the formation of the James-Younger gang, which immediately starts robbing banks and making off with the railroad's money.
This film has nothing to do with history and nothing to do with actual emotion. It moves along like a rock video. None of the killing seems like it even hurts. In fact, killing people appears to be a blast. The characters aren't interesting and neither is the story. The filmmakers wanted to make a Western for young people, but instead they made a Western for the lobotomized.
To spread the word about this American Outlaws review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.