I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Baytown Outlaws

tn_baytownoutlawsI only gave this a chance because I knew Zoe Bell was in it somewhere and I thought it starred Billy Bob Thornton. Turns out both are pretty small parts. And the opening has alot of signs that this is one of these post-GRINDHOUSE prefab exploitation movies that I can’t stand. It uses that old stylistic device that has pretty much never been used in a cool way, the freeze-frame-turns-into-shitty-Photoshop-tracing-that’s-supposed-to-look-like-a-comic-book-panel. The titlated outlaws are three crazy gunhappy berserker redneck brothers, the unshaven type with greasy hair and fetishistically dirty tank tops, ugly tattoos, biker jewelry, of course a rebel flag on one of them. #1, I don’t understand why these type of characters are so appealing to people who make movies like this, and #2 are we at a point where SMOKIN’ ACES is actually an influential film? Holy shit. I thought I was the only one who liked some parts of that.

But you know what? This BAYTOWN OUTLAWS isn’t bad. It won me over.

In the opening scene the three Oodie brothers Brick (Clayne Crawford), McQueen (Travis Fimmel) and Lincoln (Daniel Cudmore – Colossus from the X-MEN pictures) invade a house and gleefully massacre a bunch of people before figuring out they’re at the wrong address. They might be okay though because their boss (Andre Braugher) is the sheriff, he sends them to murder criminals all the time, so he has some experience in cover ups.

One of the many witnesses to the massacre was Celeste (Eva Longoria), who feels that their special skills of being crazy murderers who don’t get caught could be used to help her rescue her godson Rob (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) from Carlos (Thornton), the asshole dad who kidnapped him to try to get to his inheritance when he turns 18. So she offers the brothers a bunch of money, and they take it.

mp_baytownoutlaws
I don’t know what revenge the tagline is referring to. I guess the sweetness would be the relationship between the brothers and the kid? I don’t get it.

I started to warm up to the movie around the time it slowed down to have the brothers driving to their destination, McQueen asking Brick a million questions about the ins and outs of the mission, and whining “You know I’m inquisitive!” when Brick loses patience. Lincoln isn’t involved in conversations like this because he’s mute. He wears a Speak ‘n Spell around his neck at all times but hardly ever uses it. He’s a quiet, non-gentle giant, and the best character in the movie. Kinda reminds me of Tiny in the Rob Zombie movies even though he’s not deformed like that.

So they blow up Carlos’s house and take the kid, but Carlos survives, dusts himself off and starts sending various gimmicky killers after them. It’s a cartoonish version of that modern western thing, they’re outlaws riding their horses down the trail, getting attacked by Indians. In fact that becomes literal at one point, Carlos sends a gang of Native American bikers who are first seen cutting a souvenir ear off of a dead cop. They also try to scalp one of the brothers. So… not one of the more enlightened portrayals.

The rendezvous point is at three condemned buildings shaped like teepees, by the way. So the filmatists were pretty aware of this being like a western, and wanted us to be too. But that’s fine. We’re all on the same page.

Zoe Bell plays the leader of a gang of biker prostitutes who seduce the boys and then try to kill them. She’s got cleavage and a leather corset, which is a little different from what she usually gets to do. But of course she’s there for a fight scene. She doesn’t last long but at least you’ll notice she’s in the movie, it’s not another GAMER situation.

There’s also a black gang sent after them, and these guys live a full on ROAD WARRIOR lifestyle with a post-apocalyptic style battle truck.

I didn’t mention that this Rob kid who they’re all fighting over, the human mcmuffin, turns out to be mute and in a wheelchair. For a second it’s “oh shit, this kid is gonna be harder to transport than we were told” but they don’t stop to fret about it. Brodie-Sangster is completely convincing in the role. He’s timid and confused but you can tell sometimes that he’s aware of things and trying to communicate. His vulnerability cuts through the brothers’ layer of asshole and it’s pretty sweet the way they bond with him and try to make him feel good about himself. It turns out there’s a backstory to why Brick sympathizes with the kid, but it’s not even necessary.

To signify that Rob is part of the family they give him face paint that they say is the same as Lincoln wore when he used to be a wrestler. A gesture of brotherhood combined with a pro-wrestling tradition – that hits my sweet spot.

Thornton’s not in it that much, but it doesn’t really matter. He does get to do his thing as a funny asshole, just yelling at everybody, being sarcastic, oozing contempt for anyone and everything, including his right hand man and for some reason the U.S. Postal Service. I don’t know why but it’s just always a delight to watch Billy Bob be an asshole. It could easily be somebody else in the role and it would just be unpleasant to watch, but with Billy Bob it’s hilarious. Even that interview he did where he was actually being a real life asshole was pretty damn funny. I hope he starts doing more movies again.

Braugher is also great, as always. He’s a more complex character because he’s pretty sleazy and cold-blooded but you get the sense that he’s really doing what he thinks is for the greater good. I like his interactions with Reese (Paul Wesley), the ATF agent who’s sniffing around. Millard has to play dumb the whole time and Reese knows what he’s doing but sarcastically plays along. I like when he sees a relevant police sketch in the newspaper and he says, “This is the first time evidence has literally been brought to my front door.”

It’s kinda weird how you can have a character like this, have them wear a Confederate flag for the whole movie but as long as they never say the n-word or anything we can accept them as a nice guy. Even though we fuckin know what that means. But there’s at least an attempt here to show the fucked up life they came from and an occasional attempt to grow beyond their self proclaimed ignorance. There’s a scene that’s just on the line of corny where they’re helped out by some undocumented hotel workers and discuss the immigration situation with them. But I think it works. This movie just skirts along the edge of so many things that I could hate but it somehow makes a good landing.

Well, except for the end credits redneck-themed rap song “This Is Our Song” by somebody named Colt Ford. It made the Justified theme song seem not that bad. I didn’t need to learn that that was a type of music that existed. Don’t look it up.

Anyway, welcome to movies director Billy Battles and co-writer Griffin Hood. A respectable debut. I’ll look for the next one.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, April 8th, 2013 at 12:16 am and is filed under Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

28 Responses to “Baytown Outlaws”

  1. That Brodie-Sangster kid apparently loves to take roles where he doesn’t have to talk much. He is the voice of Ferb in PHINEAS & FERB, and his character says most of the time only one line per episode, sometimes even less. Then he had a bigger guest role in DOCTOR WHO at one point and if I remember right, his character wasn’t the most talkative either. Apparently he is currently in the new season of GAME OF THRONES, so I wonder how much he will say there.

  2. “co-writer Griffin Hood.”

    so I’m not the only person in America that has Griffin for a first name? that’s good to know…

  3. You also got Griffin Dunne the star of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.

  4. here’s the thing about Griffin Dunne though, Griffin is not his real first name, I was almost heart broken when I read that

    Griffin is way, way more common as a last name, in fact I like to joke that I’m the opposite of Miami Vice actor Philip Michael Thomas, who has 3 first names, well I have 3 last names

  5. When I heard about this one, I thought we had another HELL RIDE situation on our hands, so it’s cool to hear that it’s got enough heart to keep it from being another soulless mashup. It’s like how PLANET TERROR is basically just a pastiche but then it has that scene with the two brothers and the barbecue sauce that kinda ties all the parts together and makes it feel like a real movie, not just a goof. Neo-grindhousers need to remember that. You shouldn’t go overboard with the emotion (ain’t what nobody paid for in a movie like this) but as a little seasoning it can’t be beat.

  6. “Well, except for the end credits redneck-themed rap song “This Is Our Song” by somebody named Colt Ford. It made the Justified theme song seem not that bad. I didn’t need to learn that that was a type of music that existed. Don’t look it up.”

    Oh God I looked it up why did I look it up oh God

  7. Knox Harrington

    April 8th, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I still can’t get over how horrible Hell Ride is. Can’t believe Tarantino put his name on that stinker.

    It kinda put me off biker movies for a good long while.

  8. Justified theme song

    April 8th, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    I reject your insinuation that the Justified theme song is not good.

  9. I actually like Gangstagrass and the JUSTIFIED theme is probably among my favourite Tv themes in a long while. There I´ve said it.

  10. I actually like Gangstagrass and the JUSTIFIED theme is probably among my favourite Tv themes in a long while. There I´ve said it.

  11. Do they use a different theme song in other countries? Here it’s a banjo song with a guy rapping “on this lonely road / tryin to make it home…” The banjo is fine but I don’t think it fits the show to have rapping on the theme song, even if it was done by someone who was good enough to purposely record their voice rapping and play it in a forum where other people would hear it. To me it’s the clear leader in the gap between quality of show and quality of theme song. But like I said, it’s It Takes a Nation of Millions compared to this song on the end of Baytown Outlaws.

  12. Justified theme song

    April 9th, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Disagree completely — I think the song’s great, I like Gangstagrass, and hearing it pumps me up for the episode. And the first few beats/notes are a great reaction to whatever awesome moment the teaser left off at. Anyways — great review as always, just couldn’t let the shot at something that I think is awesome go unchallenged.

  13. I´m not sure I´m OK with dissing the Justified theme considering the other musical atrocities that has been made in the name of television. Does the “theme” for THE SHIELD ring a bell?
    I do think the redneck hiphop fits the show, considering Justified is more of a modern urban western than a straightup redneck Dukes of Hazzard kinda thing. (I´m aware that Dukes of Hazzard is not a western, but I can´t think of a better example at the top of my head).

  14. Speaking of Justified, Vern, would you consider doing a review of this most recent season? I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on one of the best things on tv right now, and reviewing the season as a whole makes more sense than episode recaps. The theme song doesn’t bother me but I always found it a little silly.

  15. As this sight’s snobbiest rap snob (a position with a great deal of competition round these parts), I like the JUSTIFIED theme. It nails that bizarre, unexpected combination of redneck and gangsta that seems to have taken over the blue-collar segments of this country in a laidback and tasteful way. I think it fits the show perfectly by adding a little urban into the country and vice versa.

  16. No way. The JUSTIFIED theme song is fantastic – country, gritty, old, modern – the collision of the old ways and modern. And I love the way they make the intro fade into the music these days. They also sync up the music and images on the DVD menus really well which makes it even more catchy. The full song has some wit, too. Yo, my feet hurt!

  17. I like the theme too! I wouldn’t buy an album of the guy’s music, but it works for me. Nothing else about the show really goes the obvious route, so why should the theme?

  18. Wait… “Gangstagrass”? That’s real, and more than one of you have heard of it? Oh no.

  19. Vern – I can share my Spotify playlist called Gangstagrass Greatest Gangbangerhits if you want?

  20. How’s Travis Fimmel in this movie? I’ve been watching him on Vikings, that new History Channel show, but am not that impressed. I might give it a watch anyway, as my brother keeps insisting it’s fantastic. (did I mention he thought Battleship was better than The Avengers?)

    By the way, speaking of cool tv themes, I can’t seem to get enough of this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MXblTarOUg

  21. thanks for the heads up – deleting Spotify software to be safe

  22. In fifty years everybody will be calling Gangstagrass the “Good Ol´boys”

  23. I love me some Justified but can’t get into the Gangstagrass theme. It’s not terrible, it just seems to be a sum of it’s parts. I’d compare it to a decent rapper doing a couple verses over an unremarkable band playing some bluegrass standards. I don’t have any spiteful words to say about this experiment but I have absolutely no interest in ever listening to it more than once.

  24. Music, more so than movies, is an art form everybody in the world tend to have really strong feelings for and opinions about. And because of that it’s a bit more defining for who you are as a human being than what movies you like. “Where are you going with this, pegsman?” I hear you ask. Well, I just wanted to say that I find it really, really funny to see people with crappy music taste having a go at other types of music.

  25. The original Paul

    April 10th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Honestly, the Gangstagrass song sounds like a better addition to “Django Unchained” than the rap music that they actually DID put in there. Sorry. I know y’all are fans of RZA.

    Yeah, I know absolutely nothing about rap music… it mostly sounds the same to me. The countrified rap thing at least has something a little different for me to sink my teeth into.

    Can’t comment on “Justified” because I don’t think it’s on over here, and I can’t comment on “Baytown Outlaws” except to say that it actually sounds interesting from the review. If it’s ever on TV I might give it a shot.

  26. Seriously though,Vern. The JUSTIFIED OST on Spotify has some really sweet tunes. But considering that I am in the Gangstagrass camp I don´t expect you to trust me on this one.

  27. Aparently Zoe Bell is in the new Tom Cruise movie, OBLIVION, but she goes by so fast you’ll hardly notice. It sure looks pretty but I’ll be interested to see what others make of it.

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