by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

On its father's side of the family, Outlaw comes from the British gangster genre, humorless division. The maternal half traces its lineage back to Death Wish.

Sean Bean stars as a returning war vet with some psychological problems and a rucksack full of automatic weapons. He finds that the life he's returned to in Britain is shattered. His wife is involved with someone else, and the country he fought for is filled with criminals and street thugs. As time goes on, he hooks up with a handful of disillusioned men who have been let down by the justice system. For example, there's a barrister whose wife was killed by a mob boss he was prosecuting. The prosecutor can't prove the connection to the mobster in court, so he turns to Bean and his recruits. Bean eventually teaches his rag-tag army of middle-class wankers to man up, and with the aid of a sympathetic policeman (Bob Hoskins), they form a Robin Hood vigilante gang to take on the people who wronged them.

Bean, Danny Dyer, and Hoskins do provide plenty of talent for the project but, like Dr. Frankenstein, they should have used their genius for good instead of evil. The story is trite and fundamentally unsatisfying. It can be boring and repetitious throughout the development stages of the story, and the dramatic conclusion doesn't even provide the usual revenge fantasy catharsis. Every member of the gang dies except one, and several of their enemies survive, including the snitch who rats them out and the crooked cop who ends up being the mastermind behind the mob boss. Because of those developments, Outlaw plays out like a revenge flick without enough revenge. On the other hand, the director contends that it is not intended to be a sensationalized genre film. His commentary says, "People have to watch it twice. It's a serious film!" So possibly it is supposed to be a meaningful drama that has been pimped out with lurid ultra-violence to dramatize the deterioration of social conditions in England.


On the other hand, he also says, ""I'm really enjoying myself," he says, "We've been shooting fucking armed robberies, shooting shoot-outs, shooting fights breaking out in a pub, people getting the shit kicked out of them in streets."

Whether it is intended to be sensational or thoughtful, it won't ever find much of an audience. It's too one-dimensional and visceral for the Ken Loach social realism crowd, and too ambivalent for the Charles Bronson revenge audience.

I don't know whether the director was trying to make a thoughtful film, but I do know this much. I will not follow his recommendation to watch it twice.


* widescreen anamorphic

No info announced yet for the Region 1 DVD. The Region 2 disc has:

* Nine deleted scenes.

* A "making of" featurette

* The director's diary.



26 British News Consensus (of 100)
2 BBC  (of 5 stars)


5.9 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. It reached about 286 theaters in the UK, but grossed only three million dollars and was gone after three weeks.



The only flesh comes from some miscellaneous strippers in a club scene, and even those women are generally decapitated into total anonymity by the framing and editing of that scene.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a: