American Outlaws

Eight young men, one of whom happens to be named Jesse James, form a version of the legendary James gang in response to the violent tactics of a railroad baron determined to force them off their Missouri lands. This western, which claims no particular connection to the history of anything or anyone, has lots of action, drama, comedy, and corn—and few pauses, which is striking; conventional wisdom says audiences need release after tension. There's also a subtle revolution in the delivery of the dialogue, with the actors often exaggerating formalities or putting imaginary quotation marks around catchphrases. But their self-consciousness isn't driven by the reflexivity fad, it belongs to the characters they play. Les Mayfield directed a screenplay by Roderick Taylor and John Rogers; with Colin Farrell and Timothy Dalton. 95 min.

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