Nick Love's new film has been billed as 'The Football Factory with guns', which is selling it a bit short. Fans of Love's crunchily violent geezer pleasers won't be disappointed though, as a group of disaffected/grieving/psychotic men go Robin Hoodie on organised criminals and corrupt police. However, as technically impressive and (mostly) well-acted as the film is, the moral ambiguity of the main players and their plight could leave the audience out in the cold.
Outlaw quickly draws several trailing story threads around Sean Bean's angry ex-squaddie, a man for whom serving his morally ailing country (it's all Blair's fault, apparently) has left him with little to do but unite, among others, Danny Dyer's put-upon city boy, Lennie James' grieving barrister and Sean Harris' psychotic security guard. Together, they set out to make their own violent stand against drug dealers, "paedos" and in particular, the crime boss responsible for murdering James' wife. Along the way, they're aided by Bob Hoskins' weary copper, and while they're a big hit with the public, they're ill-equipped and hopelessly outnumbered - from their first pub brawl to the inevitable final shoot-out.
"FEELS LIKE A MISSED OPPORTUNITY"
While there's no doubting Love's directing ability, Outlaw works much better as a straight-up crime thriller than an angry diatribe on the state of the nation. Far from exploring the precarious moral high ground taken by Bean and co, the film settles for a simplistic smaller picture, complete with one-dimensional bad guys and none-too-subtle posturing, which might leave you with something to talk about, but very little to sympathise with. Still, while this feels like a missed opportunity, it could be worse, it could have been The Football Factory - with guns.
Outlaw is released in UK cinemas on Friday 9th March 2007.