Cinematic Releases: Outlaws and Angels (2016) - Reviewed

The new Western, Outlaws and Angels is out in limited run cinemas and on iTunes today. 

With decidedly varied reviews that have included Variety listing this as one of the top 21 films that appeared at the Sundance Film Festival and another one that described it as total trash that wasn’t even deserving a spot in it, I was somewhat skeptical of what to expect from this new western. After watching it, I have to declare that it is a true tour de force that for me personally blows away Quentin Taratino’s somewhat similar spaghetti western The Hateful Eight. This is a violent and gritty western about a group of outlaws that rob a bank and are being pursued by a group of bounty hunters. They go on a more difficult path to evade capture and end up taking refuge at the religious Tildon’s house, where a series of cat and mouse games makes us question which ones are the outlaws and which ones are the angels in this story.

Clowns to the left of me....jokers to the I am.......gonna shoot you both. 

First time feature length director and writer JT Mollner does an excellent job in telling a story that is very much a nod to the violent spaghetti westerns from the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is extremely brutal with blood flying all over the place and things just get even crazier than you could ever expect, with some unexpected twists that should blow the audience away. And when you start to think that it’s over, it throws you a curveball and keeps on going. The quality and overall look of the movie is simply stunning, with some absolutely incredible exterior cinematography capturing the vastness of the open west and its canyons, mountains, clouds, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The camera placement and set ups are all well done and the interior scenes contain nice lighting and use of shadows. The score is excellent and there are several scenes that use a classical piano score that are superb and I wish that I could go into more detail about what takes place in them. One felt like an homage to the memorable scene in The Wild Bunch where the gang is walking to the final showdown.

Initially I was concerned with the choice of actors that appear in this, most notably Chad Michael Murray, Luke Wilson, and Teri Polo. You wouldn’t normally consider them to be the type of typical actors that are suitable for the genre.  Surprisingly, they were all more than adequate in their roles and do a decent job. The actress that truly stands out in this one is Francesca Eastwood as Florence Tildon, who goes through a range of emotions and is just impressive. I look forward to seeing where her career goes from here.

Check out my sexy church, yo. 

For fans of recent violent westerns such as Bone Tomahawk or The Hateful Eight this is a must see. Fans of gritty and violent crime pictures may also want to give this one a chance.

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-Raul Vantassle