The Baytown Outlaws (2012) / Action-Thriller
aka The Baytown Disco
MPAA rated: R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, sexual content, and drug content
Cast: Clayne Crawford, Travis Fimmel, Andre Braugher, Billy Bob Thornton, Eva Longoria, Paul Wesley, Daniel Cudmore, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Michael Rapaport, Natalie Martinez, Zoe Bell, Serinda Swan, Agnes Bruckner
Director: Barry Battles
Screenplay: Barry Battles, Griffin Hood
Review published December 15, 2012
The Baytown Outlaws is a post-Tarantino/Rodriguez, greasy-spoon, exploitation action flick that features the requisite exaggerated comic-book characterizations, heightened vulgarity, and a penchant for violent and bloody displays that will likely please those just looking for a lot of wanton violence and moments of low-brow, outlandish humor.
The film starts off with the trio of Alabama brothers killing the inhabitants of a house, only for them to discover in the end that they've just iced the people at the wrong address. It would be a big blunder in most eyes, but their prowess with weaponry and wanton carnage gains the interest of a gorgeous gal named Celeste (Longoria, The Sentinel) who wants to hire the boys for a sizeable fee to travel to Texas in order to steal back her godson from the control of her crimelord ex-husband, Carlos (Thornton, Eagle Eye). However, they get more than they bargained for when the ex turns out to be one of the biggest fish in the criminal world, and he will pull out all stops to keep them from succeeding in their mission to return the boy back to the woman he left for dead.
As the brothers head back to deliver the lad, the ex sends all manners of dangerous gangs out to snuff them out, including sexy (but deadly) biker chicks, psycho Native Americans and a hardened all-Black crew of killers. Meanwhile, a pesky CIA agent (Wesley, Cloud 9) is busy trying to root out information on them from the local sheriff (Braugher, Rise of the Silver Surfer) who just so happens to be brothers' mentor and chief corrupter. Between hired guns and the long arm of the law, it's getting to be more and more dangerous to find their way back and claim the money they once thought was a decent sum.
Directed and co-written by first-time filmmaker Barry Battles, The Baytown Outlaws benefits from a good visual style and quality casting in most of the roles, though the characters, as is often the case in gratuitous action flicks, do tend to run quite thin. But Battle does imbue the film with a good sense of style, some interesting bits of animation (possibly to cut costs, but they do work well for the kind of cartoonish film that it is), and some moments of comic relief that keeps the violence from becoming overly repugnant.
Perhaps the most interesting decision from Battles is to go against the grain of the traditional exploitation film by painting the rednecks as the antiheroes, while their nemeses are women, Blacks, Native Americans -- and the corrupting puppet-master behind their deeds is also African-American. However, one would be hard-pressed to call the film overtly racist, as the lines are definitely blurred depending on character, and what distinguishes the Oodies from any other gang is only that we see them onscreen long enough to know that they aren't without any sort of conscience, despite their homicidal glorification.
The only known quantities in the acting department are Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria, both in small-ish but important parts, though they also are the actors who look the least like they should be in suhc a grimy and exploitative movie. Thornton mostly sleepwalks though a role that doesn't require much in the way of acting chops, and Longoria just feels out of place as his ex-lover, too clean cut to ever look like she'd have been mixed up with the likes of him, much less would do business with the Oodies.
With its highly-stylized gun battles, anti-PC stance, regional references, and underpinnings of brothers sticking up for one another when no one else will, The Baytown Outlaws is likely to draw reaction from the same audiences who've made The Boondock Saints a cult hit flick, with a heaping helping of Road House. It falls short of a Tarantino epic, or even a Rodriguez fast-food outing, but for fans of those looking for the same Grindhouse feel, it will deliver the irreverent, bloody-knuckled, B-movie goods.
©2012 Vince Leo