Saturday, March 10, 2007

OUTLAW - The Return of Auto-Bean

OUTLAW is a piss-poor low-budget British revenge drama from the director of the infinitely better FOOTBALL FACTORY, Nick Love. Comparing it to similar movies in this genre, OUTLAW has none of the intelligence, black humour, sheer terror or narrative coherence of the brilliant DEAD MAN'S SHOES. Indeed, the best thing I can say about OUTLAW is that, as low-budget revenge dramas go, it's at least significantly better than STRAIGHTHEADS.

The production values are all fine. I liked the use of the Canary Wharf location and the film looks handsome enough despite being filmed on DV. But in every other sense it fails. The premise is fine: a bunch of men from different walks of life are united by their disappointment in the ability of the Criminal Justice system to avenge them and so become vigilantes. The problem is that the reasons for which these men turn to vigilante crime are weak in the majority of cases. A barrister's pregnant wife is killed by the local gang boss. A university student has been brutally beaten up for no reason by a bunch of vicious chavs. Fair enough motives so far. But the other vigilantes are there because they're getting picked on at work, their wife is having an affair or because they are plain nuts. Not a great start.

But even if we grant the screen-writer his original character motivations, he isn't consistent as to their motivations and actions as the movie progresses. Characters who feel nervous about stringing up a murdering paedophile one moment, feel quite happy to gun down innocent coppers the next. It makes no sense. Indeed, the ending is the most disapointing part of all: a movie that had just about maintained some tension and the mature feel of a thriller suddenly reverted to an immature, facile, motive-less gun-battle.

Perhaps the inconsistencies and insufficient character motivations in the plot are responsible for the weak performances from the likes of Sean Bean, Rupert Friend and Bob Hoskins. Danny Dyer has another opportunity to display his limited range with genuine dramatic material. It's a shame because he is a charming comedic actor: he is wasted here.

OUTLAW is on release in the UK.


  1. ouch Bina - I really enjoyed this knockabout slice of 'wannabe but are too sad to even get their act together' vigilantes...
    can only apologise again for Straightheads!!

  2. No worries, Matt - going to the preview was still way-cool! You know that review is consistently in the top 3 things read on this site, which is a bit worrying.