'The Baytown Outlaws' doesn’t live up to potential

Reviewer's Rating: ★★

Photo provided by phase4filmsEva Longoria plays Celeste in The Baytown Outlaws, showing at Chalmette Movies.
Photo provided by phase4filmsEva Longoria plays Celeste in The Baytown Outlaws, showing at Chalmette Movies.

Filmmakers who want to out-Tarantino writer-director Quentin Tarantino had best beware. The soon-to-be 50 filmmaker behind Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction is the undisputed master at making Tarantino movies.

Barry Battles, also a writer-director, may have had a good idea behind the Slidell-shot The Baytown Outlaws, but the execution of this bloody, sweaty tale of vigilante justice gone wrong doesn’t match its potential or its elegantly simple title.

Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria are the movie’s marquee names. Thornton, playing a Texas crime boss, bitches and moans through the whole thing. The thugs he surrounds himself with tend to mess up his greedy plans. And when Thornton’s underlings mess up, he’s just as likely to shoot ’em in the head as look at ’em.

Longoria co-stars as the ex-wife Thornton thought he’d had murdered. But Longoria is alive and plotting the rescue of her crippled-up godson from her evil ex-husband’s gangster clutches.

Longoria recruits the Oodie brothers, the story’s anti-heroes, for the job of retrieving her godson. The Oodies are a trio of redneck brothers who normally are busy doing clandestine work for their local sheriff. These young fellers are just good ol’ boy killers, working in the best interests of their rural community.

The Oodie brothers live in a shack in the woods and, needless to say, they are well armed. Their abundant weapons help the siblings stage preventative strikes on local thugs. The brothers’ killing sprees ensure that Sheriff Millard’s county enjoys the lowest crime rate in the state of Alabama.

Clayne Crawford, Travis Fimmel and Daniel Cudmore play Brick, McQueen and Lincoln respectively, redneck killers with hearts of gold. Once they fetch Longoria’s mentally and physically handicapped godson (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), they treat the boy like he’s their own little bro.

A movie with lots of traveling in it, The Baytown Outlaws follows the Oodie brothers from Alabama to Austin, Texas, to Vicksburg, Miss. They hit a few speed bumps along the way, including a gang of biker-hookers.

The comic-strip imagery that introduces the movie is truth in advertising. This live-action cartoon has its moments but otherwise falls short of cinematic art.

Barry Battles, the director of The Baytown Outlaws, will be at Chalmette Movies, 8700 W. Judge Perez Drive, at 9:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, for a question and answer session.