The Outlaw Danny Bryant
Nick Love's "Outlaw" has the basis for a good movie as it takes a western idea and adapts it into a modern British setting. It has that feeling of a stranger coming to town who helps clean things up for a few victims whilst at the same time having that element of a revenge movie. And being set in a modern Britain it also has an element of social commentary as it is made clear that good guys suffer in a system whilst bad guys get away with murder, quite literally. But it has a problem, in fact it has a few, but the problem which causes it to flounder is our main good guy Danny Bryant who aims to clean things up is not a nice person, he has a deep sense of hatred coursing through his veins and because of that you don't feel like you can cheer him on even if he is attempting to get rid of the bad guys. And because of this and the fact the victims who end up joining him as a bunch of outlaws end up just as twisted makes it a movie where there is no one to really champion.
Having returned from serving his country abroad former soldier Danny Bryant (Sean Bean - National Treasure) returns to find not only his wife shacked up with another man but a country where the good get screwed and the bad guys get away with murder. He is not the only one who is feeling sick at what Britain has become as he introduced to Gene Dekker (Danny Dyer - Severance) and Cedric Munroe (Lennie James) both victims of violence and a judicial system which doesn't care. Together with a couple of friends they form a group of Outlaws who set about getting revenge on those who have done them wrong and standing up to the vermin which are corrupting the streets.
Right from the star writer/ director Nick Love sets out to shock as we watch Gene Dekker getting beaten to a pulp not once but twice. It's startling and intentionally so with expletive riddled violence which makes you sit up and pay attention, it goes slightly wrong by the fact one beating up is a nightmare and the second coincides with where the nightmare happened but it makes you pay attention. And to be honest as we meet each of the victims Love continues this element of shock be it barrister Cedric Munroe 's pregnant wife being stabbed or Danny returning form military service to discover his wife has found another man in his absence.
And whilst you get all of these shocking scenes and some are almost sensationalist in their brutality we also get this picture of modern British life where good guys get screwed whilst bad guys get a way with murder. It is very clear that as the writer Nick Love has strong views on how wrong things are these days and in some ways it is very easy to empathise with his viewpoint. But again there is also something sensationalist about this as Danny spews out a venomous speech on what is wrong with society and who is to blame. It is too much, too forced and weakens the strength of the social commentary side of this modern tale of violence.
Aside from this "Outlaw" feels very much like a western adapted in to a British setting with Danny Bryant being the stranger who shows up and finds himself becoming a hero as he agrees to right wrongs and take on the bad guys. It is quite clever especially in the fact that it also poses the question that when does righting a wrong by the use of violence turn you into someone no better than you are trying to get even with. But it has the problem that Danny Bryant may want to deal with bad guys but he is a man of hatred and those who join him end up being just as evil especially security guard Simon Hillier who seems to be involved not for noble reasons but to hurt people. It makes it impossible to champion any of them even if their original motives were loosely good.
And sadly because none of the characters have a likeable side it also makes the performances feel wrong. Sean Bean is well cast as a military man, he has that look about him of someone who has served abroad and seen war first hand but he comes across as just a 2 dimensional thug, even a bully. Danny Dyer is no better as Gene Dekker and Sean Harris comes across as plainly twisted as security guard Simon Hillier. That really leaves Lennie James and Rupert Friend who at least make their characters more than just thugs, thinking men who know that they are crossing the boundaries of being a good guy and bad guy but then in what should be emotional characters it feels too restrained.
What this all boils down to is that "Outlaw" has the basis to be a good movie and an interesting take on a western set in modern day Britain. But sadly it goes wrong because you end up having no one to champion as are band of vigilantes cross the line and become just as bad as the guys they are after. It is still entertaining but also disappointing because of this.