Director: Barry Battles
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Eva Longoria
Like the Loch Ness Monster, original-concept action flicks are hard to find these days. I often find myself trudging along with the various, daft James Bond wannabes that Hollywood continuously cranks out. Action flicks have become so overly formulaic it disgusts me. Films like ‘November Man’ and ‘The Equalizer’ are a dime-a-dozen. Oh, another Eastern European crime syndicate needs to get their shit kicked in? Been there, seen that. Another extraordinarily skilled secret agent, with some incredibly specific flaw? I’ll pass. That’s why it’s refreshing to find little gems like ‘The Baytown Outlaws’. What you get is some warped concoction of ‘Smokin’ Aces’ meets ‘The Dukes Of Hazzard’; it’s bombastic, in-your-face, and to the point.
So the story goes, Celeste (Eva Longoria) hires the outlaws – three badass, nothing-to-lose, redneck-gangsters – to “retrieve” her special needs godson from her jerk ex-husband, Carlos (Billy Bob Thornton), who notably attempted to kill her months prior in an insurance fraud scheme. The outlaws technically succeed in their mission, but fail to punch out Carlos, leaving themselves open to various bounty assaults from a female biker gang, a roving African assassin squad, and a Native American tribe with an expertise in guerrilla warfare. Basically, mix superb, hick badassness with an unsurprising yet fortunate range of survival skills and you’ve got yourself a cocktail for success; lots of shotguns and lots of rounds poppin’ off.
Even with a fairly light cast, ‘Baytown Outlaws’ steadily maintains the ability to provoke some incredible mayhem. Admittedly, action flicks typically don’t need exceptional acting displays to succeed. Just give me explosions and loud bangs, please. But Billy Bob Thornton brings straight fire to a smaller role, as the crazed, semi-antagonist, whose wily trust fund-adoption scheme is undone by the maniacal “outlaws”. Eva Longoria is the sexy, supporting female, capable of convincing any man of anything she pleases. One of the best scenes is where the “outlaws” go from being fucked by a gang of sexy biker chicks in a bar, to themselves doing the fucking (over), quite literally, where Michael Rappaport adds some much needed comic relief. Then there’s the “outlaws” themselves, whose anonymity as actors certainly attributes to their ability to go off the hinges, in an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle. A frenzied, irrational lightning bolt, straight out of a thunderstorm, and it works.
‘Baytown Outlaws’ is not complex, but it is original. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of seeing the same movie over and over again. I’d rather explore a dynamic that I’ve never witnessed before, even at the expense of absolute quality. Maybe that’s because I’m adventurous, but probably it’s because I’ve watched too many movies and now I’m diluted. Or possibly it’s because showing me something unique with a whole lot of gun blasts makes me happy. Either way, I guarantee you’ll get more kicks from an unconventional, maverick of a film like this, than from a big-budget, system picture with an all-star cast. That’s all I want for you guys – to see something new. Because with originality, comes the great movies that are willing to be bold and different, and everyone needs that kind of excitement.