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American Outlaws


MPAA Rating:


Run Time:



Colin Farrell

Kathy Bates

Timothy Dalton


(pictures (c)2001 Warner Bros.)

Still shot from the movie: American Outlaws.

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Overall C+
Run Time94

Making the Grades

Quick on the draw, American Outlaw's opening ambush sequence seemed to enthrall the predominately Stetson wearing, entirely male audience that I (a female) screened with.

American Outlaws - Official site Hoping to return to farming after serving in the American Civil War, the James brothers and their cousins from the Younger family are disappointed to discover that trouble's-a-brewin' back at the ranch. A big bad railroad tycoon, his agents, and a special group of detectives are using the government's approval as clout to persuade the locals to sell their land cheap. Although none of the boys are willing to accept the offer, Cole Younger (Scott Caan) expresses his disapproval by killing a couple of the prospective purchasers. To save their cousin's neck from the noose, the cocky quick-draw Jesse (Colin Farrell) and his book-learned, sharp-shooting brother Frank (Gabriel Macht) decide to wage a private war to derail the mogul's progress.

American Outlaws - Official site Forming the James-Younger Gang they begin holding up banks, robbing payroll, and blowing up tracks, which supplies plenty of gun fighting opportunities. They also wisely buy support and good will (and audience sympathy) by sharing their take with the general population. Although the cunning and patient Detective Pinkerton (Timothy Dalton) is in charge of the railroad's resistance, the biggest threat to the gang's survival may be an emerging leadership power struggle.

American Outlaws - Official site American Outlaws is a glamorization of crime with Robin Hood ethics that contains some sexual references, moderate language use, and violent depictions. While these are undeniably gratuitous, they are not overly gory or psychologically disturbing. This leaves parents of older teens with the difficult dilemma of deciding if killing for entertainment's sake with no significant attempt to show consequences is really any better.

The action and witty script are sure to supply the film's targeted demographic with lots of what they are looking for. But anyone interested in the history of Jesse James and his band of outlaws may want to seriously heed the disclaimer in the closing credits, which states all characters portrayed in this film are fictitious and any similarity to real persons is purely coincidental.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about American Outlaws.

When Jesse is set on getting vengeance, he argues with Zee (Ali Larter) that justice does not touch people who are rich and powerful. Zee counters by asking, “Who’s justice? Yours or God’s?” and then, “When will you stop?” What options do you have when you feel something is unfair? What are appropriate limits?

How do you feel about the youngest member of the gang describing his experience as an outlaw as being the “time of his life”?

For information about Jesse James, one of America’s most famous outlaws, search the internet with your favorite engine, or check your local library. As for the motives of this legend of a character, it appears the jury is still out.

Canadian Movie Ratings

PG Violence, Coarse Language
MB Not Rated Mature Theme
ON Not Rated
QC G Not Advisable for Children

Canadian Home Video Rating: PG

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of American Outlaws...

Although we have not reviewed the DVD version of American Outlaws, we provide the following information for your convenience.

DVD Release Information:
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Theatrical release date: August 17, 2001
  • DVD release date: December 4, 2001
  • Runtime: 94 minutes
  • Production company: Warner Bros.
  • Package type: Snap case
  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen anamorphic - 1.77:1
  • DVD encoding: Region 1
  • Available audio tracks: English (DTS), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Available subtitles: English, Spanish, French
DVD Extras:
  • Commentaries by Les Mayfield (director), Michael Tronick (editor), and John Rogers (co-writer)
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Featurettes: Making Of American Outlaws, Creating The Old West, How To Be An Outlaw, and Costuming The Cowboys
  • Publicity and Storyboard galleries

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