Trying to resurrect the spirit of the "Young Guns" movies, "American Outlaws" ends up shooting itself in the foot. Combining a terrible script with some horrendous acting, it's a comedy-action film that's so below par it makes "Posse" seem like a contender for one of the greatest westerns of all time.
Jesse James (Farrell) returns home from fighting against the Yankees in the Civil War to find his homestead under threat. The railroad company is laying tracks through Missouri and they want to buy out all the local farmers. Anyone who doesn't want to take the $2 an acre asking price is likely to find their property burnt to the ground by the railroad company's bullyboys. But no one's banked on Jesse James, though, who's ready to go to war again to keep his land. Teaming up with a group of local boys, Jesse leads his band of merry outlaws on a bank-robbing spree that's likely to ruin the railroad company.
As dumb movies go, "American Outlaws" is pretty awful. Designed for an undemanding multiplex audience it throws in every common denominator to make itself appealing. There's some shooting for the boys, a sappy love story for the girls, a comic turn from Timothy Dalton as the leader of the railroad company's mercenaries (who, of course, has a sneaking admiration for the hero), and plenty of lame gags.
Written by a committee armed with charts of audience demographics, "American Outlaws" is the kind of film that will have you throwing your popcorn at the screen in disgust. Does Hollywood really think so little of us?