Written by: Bill Bryden & Steven Smith & Stacy Keach & James Keach (written by), Walter Hill (uncredited)
Directed by: Walter Hill
Starring: David Carradine, Stacy Keach, Dennis Quaid, Keith Carradine, James Keach, Randy Quaid, James Remar
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
The life and death of the Jesse James gang, a group of brothers become bank robbers out for revenge.
It's a serviceable western, but it doesn't stand among the greats. While the stunts are impressive, the stylized shootouts are dated. The story is thin, punctuated by a few robberies.
The gang is painted as anti-heroes more or less, maybe they were in the eyes of their neighbors. It seems to be a fairly accurate recounting of the Jesse James gang, but it doesn't delve far into the story. It relies on some usual tropes like bars, gambling, prostitutes, and stage coach robberies. I can't help but yearn for artistry of Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007).
It's a neat touch that actual brothers played the gang, though James Keach doesn't quite fit the part of James. James should be a more dominant personality.
David Carradine steals every scene he's in, a stand out tough guy among a group of tough guys. His best scene is a knife fight where he and the other guy (James Remar) each hold one end of a stocking in their mouth to keep them close.
The gun fights are dated. Guys are hit with bullets and go flying back and there are lots of slow motion shots with people falling off roofs. The gun shot wounds look great with coats tearing open as blood flies. The stunts are also impressive with men thrown from horses, toppling down hills, and horses hitting the ground.
While the gang makes a few robberies before taking some time off, the movie doesn't convey the passage of time at all. The pinnacle of the film is a crazy gun fight with bullets pelting everything in sight. There isn't any story between the robberies. Why doesn't the movie look into what drove these men to commit the robberies? They're just a bunch of rough and tumble thieves.