Even after falsely billing Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria as the stars of this action-packed B-movie extravaganza (as if that would pull in the crowds), the producers and director/co-screenwriter Barry Battles have no need to apologize. This ode to Tarantino, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, and Jerry Lewis marathons is deliriously silly, frenetically violent, and insanely entertaining, especially for those who prefer Mad Max over The Rules of the Game.
The actual leads are Clayne Crawford, Travis Fimmel, and Daniel Crawford, who respectively play three orphaned siblings who've grown up to be the gun-toting, bemuscled, sweaty hunks Brick, G.I., and the mute former wrestler Lincoln. These charismatic Southern rednecks work for a local sheriff (Andre Braugher) who employs them to slay on the sly his county's criminal elements.
All goes well until the applaudable opening credits, when the bros have a bloody shootout at the wrong address. It could happen to anyone, right?Despondent and out of cash, the boys accept a job from the lovely, scantily attired, bullet-scarred Celeste (Longoria), who wants the gang of sorts to re-kidnap her godson Rob (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) from her crazed ex, Carlos (Thornton), and then kill the motherfucker of a drug dealer. Uh, oh! Beware of dames in Daisy Dukes.
Our heroes do wind up slaughtering most of Carlos's gang and rescuing the "Child," a teenaged disabled lad in a wheelchair, but Carlos survives. The angered mobster immediately sends out a gang of sadistic, Hooter-esque ladies, a troop of hotheaded Nubian killers, plus a tribe of fiercely toxic Indians to kill the brothers and get Rob back. Why? When the boy turns 18, he will inherit a fortune that Carlos wants to control.
With just enough of a plot line to convince you there is a plot, The Baytown Outlaws succeeds mainly due to the efforts of Crawford and Fimmel, who are beddable Jean-Claude Van Damme types, but with acting chops. And then there's Battles's first-rate helming. Hollywood will no doubt come a-calling quickly, and within a decade, this young gent will be directing $100 million sagas about men in tights who can fly and save the masses from nuclear disaster. Or there's Sylvester Stallone and The Expendables X. - Brandon Judell
Mr. Judell is currently teaching "Queer Theatre" and "Gay and Lesbian Identity in Literature" at The City College of New York and is Coordinator of The Simon H. Rifkind Center. He has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire.com, The New York Daily News, Soho Style, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's A Member of the Family (Dutton). He is also a member of the performance/writing group FlashPoint.