Tuesday, July 09, 2024

The Outlaws, Co-Starring Eric Roberts as Bloody Tom

What is the representative national food of Finland? Ruisleipa rye bread? Does that make this a Ruisleipa Western? Regardless, even though it was shot in the U.S., this film might have more Finnish crew in its closing credits than any other Western you might have seen. It also has Eric Roberts as a villain. That is definitely something. Bloody Tom waits for the third act to make his grand entrance, but he lives up to his name in Joey Palmroos (Finnish) & Austen Paul’s The Outlaws, which releases Friday on VOD.

Four hard-bitten outlaws just pulled off a daring train robbery, but the getaway will be the tricky part. They ditched their horses to mislead the posse, but they might just kill each other waiting for the boss, Bloody Tom, to bring fresh mounts. Or maybe they won’t. Palmroos, Paul, and co-screenwriter Anders Holmes (Danish) show viewers what could have happened, in between the various characters’ flashbacks.

John “JT” Tulsa, whom nobody really believes hails from Oklahoma, has good reason to keep his past secret. Henriette Parker is probably the craziest of the bunch, but we come to understand how life as a female outlaw took its toll on her emotional stability. William Higgins is supposedly the other “Wild Bill,” but he too carries a lot of baggage. Despite his prosthetic leg, Boone Collins is a creepy sociopath, so yeah for representation.

As B-movie Westerns go, the generically titled
Outlaws is appealingly gritty and competently executed. It leans a little too heavily on the flashbacks, but whatever. Roberts is reliably and charismatically crafty as Bloody Tom, like you would expect. Celeste Wall and Jonathan Peacy are also both appropriately fierce and nutty.

Outlaws is all about the villains—its right there in the title. However, Dallas Hunt offers a nicely understated counterpoint, as Tulsa, who is the closest thing the film has to a good guy. Plus, Sterling Scott has some interesting moments as the Preacher in Tulsa’s flashbacks.

One of the most successful Western components of the film are the original songs, especially
Gold is Gold,” composed by Kustaa Kantelinen (Finnish) and performed by Bryn Jones and the Band of Robbers, which definitely has a “know when to fold them” vibe and nicely echoes some of the more memorable dialogue.

The Outlaws
is clearly a VOD oater, but it has some character—mostly darkly villainous character, but it still counts. Recommended for Western fans when it turns up on free-streaming platforms, The Outlaws releases Friday (7/12) on VOD.