Movie Reviews

American Outlaws Review: A Flawed Attempt at a Crime Epic

Sean McEwen‘s American Outlaws attempts to bring the intriguing true story of the Dougherty siblings to the big screen. With a promising premise and a cast led by India Eisley, Emory Cohen, and Sam Strike, the film had the potential to be an engaging crime drama. However, despite its best efforts, American Outlaws falls short of expectations, offering a mix of clichés and missed opportunities that ultimately leave the viewer wanting more. Read on for my American Outlaws review.

The Bad Parts Of The American Outlaws Review: 

American Outlaws (2023).

The film’s premise revolves around the Dougherty siblings, Lee-Grace, Dylan, and Ryan, who are facing the possibility of prison and decide to embark on a cross-country crime spree in search of an idealized freedom. This initial setup presents an intriguing concept that could have been explored in depth, delving into the motivations and psychology of the characters. Unfortunately, the film never fully realizes this potential.

One of the biggest issues with American Outlaws is its lack of character development. The audience is introduced to the siblings, but their backgrounds, motivations, and relationships are only touched upon briefly. As a result, it’s challenging to connect with the characters on a deeper level, making it difficult to invest in their journey.

India Eisley, Emory Cohen, and Sam Strike give respectable performances, but the script doesn’t provide them with enough material to work with. Eisley portrays Lee-Grace as a tough, no-nonsense leader, but her character lacks depth and complexity. Cohen’s Dylan comes across as the typical rebel without a cause, and Strike’s Ryan is given very little to do other than tag along. The lack of character development also extends to the supporting cast, leaving many characters feeling one-dimensional and forgettable.

In terms of its portrayal of the criminal activities of the Dougherty siblings, American Outlaws tries to strike a balance between romanticizing their actions and acknowledging their consequences. While the film doesn’t shy away from depicting the chaos and danger of their crimes, it also doesn’t fully explore the moral implications of their choices. This lack of moral exploration is a missed opportunity, as it could have added depth and complexity to the characters and their motivations.

One of the biggest issues with American Outlaws is its lack of character development.

The film’s pacing is another issue that hampers the overall experience. American Outlaws attempts to cover a significant portion of the Dougherty siblings’ crime spree, but it rushes through key events and lacks a sense of tension and suspense. Moments that should have been pivotal in the narrative get glossed over, leaving the viewer feeling disconnected from the story. The decision to condense the timeline of the real-life events into a relatively short film may have been necessary, but it results in a disjointed and unsatisfying narrative.

The film’s direction by Sean McEwen is competent but lacks a distinct visual style. American Outlaws often feels like a made-for-TV movie rather than a cinematic experience. The action sequences, while serviceable, fail to deliver the excitement and intensity one would expect from a crime drama. There’s a missed opportunity to create visually striking set pieces that could have elevated the film.

The Good Within The American Outlaws Review

American Outlaws (2023).

One aspect where American Outlaws does show some promise is in its exploration of family dynamics. The sibling bond between Lee-Grace, Dylan, and Ryan is evident, and there are moments that hint at the complexity of their relationships. However, these moments are fleeting and underdeveloped, leaving the audience yearning for more insight into their connections and the impact of their criminal choices on their family.

The film’s soundtrack is a mixed bag, with a selection of period-appropriate rock songs that occasionally add energy to certain scenes. However, the music choices sometimes feel forced and disconnected from the narrative, as if included simply for the sake of having a catchy soundtrack.

On a positive note, the film’s production design and costuming capture the time period effectively. From the retro cars to the fashion choices, American Outlaws successfully transports viewers to the late 20th century. The attention to detail in recreating the settings and atmosphere of the era is commendable and adds some authenticity to the film.

Overall Impression:

American Outlaws, directed by Sean McEwen, is a film with an intriguing premise and a talented cast that ultimately falls short of its potential. The lack of character development, rushed pacing, and a failure to fully explore the complex dynamics within the Dougherty family hinder the overall experience. While there are moments of promise, the film fails to deliver a satisfying and in-depth exploration of the true story it seeks to portray. For those looking for a crime drama with more depth and substance, American Outlaws may leave you wanting more.

American Outlaws Review: A Flawed Attempt at a Crime Epic
  • Acting - 7/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 4/10
  • Setting/Theme - 4/10
  • Watchability - 6/10
  • Rewatchability - 3/10
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