Director: Barry Battles
Screenplay: Barry Battles, Griffin Hood
Starring: Eva Longoria, Billy-Bob Thornton, Paul Wesley, Daniel Cudmore, Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Producers: Thomas J Busch, Griffin Hood, Ryan Jones
Running time: 99 minutes
Three lawless, violent, self styled rednecks take on a new job that doesn’t go quite as planned.
In the accompanying information about Baytown Outlaws the film is described as being Tarantino-esque and I have to say that the writers and director certainly do have a rather obvious liking for QT’s work on the basis of the film.
As with Tarantino films, Baytown Outlaws isn’t set in the slick Hollywood world of so many US movies, but is an examination of the expansive underbelly of US culture. Baytown Outlaws is set in the deep south of the US in places like Alabama that don’t get that much in the way of movie coverage.
The film is also brutal. The opening sequence will set the pulses of QT fans racing as the bullets fly and there’s more cursing than at a tourettes anonymous meeting. This though sets the precedent for the rest of the film, as the template of the guns and shooting is pretty much what the the film is about.
The heroes, if you can call them that, are three brothers who after botching the aforementioned raid at the start of the film then take pity on the very pretty Celeste (Eva Longoria) who wants to get her godson back from her violent ex-husband Carlos (Billy-Bob Thornton).
The boys have an innovative way of doing this, but of course getting the boy is one thing. Keeping him is quiet another.
It’s at this point that the film goes from the ridiculous to the downright bonkers. It’s as if the writers tapped into their teenage boy minds and thought of the most bizarre plot and character options possible, but only managed to rehash some tired cliches from B action movies.
On the one hand the sections are quite fun, I won’t explain them here in case you do choose to watch it, and they do take the action up another notch (not that it really needed it), but they are so terribly cliched most people wouldn’t write the scenes for fear of making their film look cheap and formulaic. The writers of Baytown Outlaws clearly didn’t mind this happening, if they even noticed!
In the accompanying making of, which is mildly interesting, the creators of the film talk about when the script was doing the rounds in Hollywood and in their words, was one of the most talked about scripts. On this basis I can only imagine that there really aren’t that many good scripts going around Hollywood. In the same doc Eva Longoria talks about how doing the film was different from her ‘day job’ on Desperate Housewives. This must rate as one of the understatements of the year because it couldn’t have been more different than if she took the role of Big Bird in Sesame Street and taught all the kids how to swear.
I’ve never been that much of a fan of Billy-Bob Thornton to be honest and he doesn’t exactly cover himself in glory with this one either. The role he plays is more caricature than character as is the way with most of them, so he doesn’t have a great deal to work with, but it’s still not the greatest.
The stand out performance in the film has to go to Thomas Brodie-Sangster who plays the disabled godson. He is so believable that I wasn’t entirely sure that he wasn’t in some way disabled himself. This guy clearly has talent and the film is lucky to have him.
All in all, if you like Quentin Tarantino and don’t mind half-assed knock off films that ape his style, then you’ll like Baytown Outlaws. If you want something a bit more cerebral then don’t bother with this.
Review by Henry Tucker