Whenever a review says, “If you loved blank movie then you will love this,” more often than not they are completely off the mark, yielding a highly uneven viewing experience. Since honestly is my policy I can tell you that if you love the popular 70′s television show, “The Dukes of Hazzard” and simply can’t get enough of Patrick Swayze’s throat ripping Dalton in “Roadhouse” then you will certainly enjoy the latest in bloody, funny road epics that is “The Baytown Outlaws” (R). Some may think that because of it’s snarky meets violent setting it could easily be written off as a Pulp Fiction ripoff, hanging onto a 1990s-like trope of similar films. In my opinion they are taking the film too seriously, and forgetting the fact that sometimes, a fun movie is simply a fun movie.
“The Baytown Outlaws” was directed and co-written by Barry Battles who has few credits to his name. So this effort truly comes out of nowhere. Therefore praise has to be handed to him for his efforts to create this project. The movie tells the story of three offbeat redneck brothers who are contracted by a woman played by Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) to rescue her son from her abusive, criminal ex-husband played by Billy Bob Thorton (Sling Blade, The Ice Harvest), whose character is almost a spot on re-creation of Ben Gazzara’s evil boss character from Roadhouse. Throughout the film we get to see him interact with his nameless goons who brilliantly resemble everything we love about schlocky 80′s style action flicks.
But even though Thorton and Longoria are top billed and their respective photos boldly don the poster, they are actually just supporting cast members here. The true comedy and action come from the three redneck brothers, who are cast perfectly. Daniel Cudmore (Twilight), Clayne Crawford (Justified), and Travis Fimmel (The Beast) play the titled outlaws. Even while the opening credits are rolling on the screen we get a vibrantly painted picture into who these guys are, living on the fringe of society while taking out the human trash in bombastic fashion. The opening “job” features the boys at their most brutal. As these scenes played out, this writer thought this type of unapologetic and violent film making would continue throughout the piece. After these scenes a slight sea of change occurs that shows the boys in a more human light and thus characters that the audience can root for especially when they get into trouble. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the director take more risks and have the brothers colored as shades of grey, not knowing when to cheer for them or question their morals. But that is my only true gripe with the film.
Like any road movie, the brothers come in contact with a rogues gallery of adversaries as the try to rescue Longoria’s character’s son. This is where the homages to other films are shown in blatant bloody color on the screen. One of the film’s more memorable ”WTF” moments comes when Zoe Bell (Quentin Tarantino’s favorite stunt woman) leads a gang of female assassins on a mission to take out the “Outlaws” for Thornton. Not only is the scene action packed, but it is hilarious and contains a great cameo. It’s 2013, and everything has been done in film. At this point we are only honoring the cinematic pieces that have predated the current ones. In that same vein, “The Baytown Outlaws” combines elements of violence and comedy, mixing both in a truly satisfying way. Either see it in the theater or watch it at home on VOD. Just be sure to gather your fun friends, crack a few adult beverages and hitch a ride with the outlaws!
“The Baytown Outlaws” starring Billy Bob Thorton, Eva Longoria is rated R, has a runtime of 98 minutes and will be released on limited screens Friday, January 11th.
- Jay Rubin