Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” took a low-budget B-western premise and staged it like an expensive old-time Hollywood epic. Now the similar “Outlaws and Angels” shifts the genre back toward the gritty, though ironically, writer-director JT Mollner’s own Tarantino-esque pretensions get in the way.
Chad Michael Murray stars as Henry, a bank robber who spends most of “Outlaws and Angels” hiding out in a remote farmhouse with a deeply religious family. Over the course of several days and nights, the dynamic between Henry’s gang and their reluctant hosts shifts as secrets are spilled.
The film starts with a literal bang, as a prostitute’s explicit sexual conversation ends with her getting shot through the eye. That sets the tone for a movie that’s heavy on chit-chat, punctuated by raw shock.
Mollner has a good ear for lowlife-speak — evident when one of Henry’s men complains about needing a bath, saying, “My parts is itches.” But Mollner also bogs the picture down with overly lyrical voiceover narration by Luke Wilson (playing a lawman).
While Mollner elicits some strong performances — especially from Francesca Eastwood as a vengeful farmer’s daughter — “Outlaws and Angels” can’t overcome its distractingly showy camera moves or its tendency toward scenes that drag on interminably. To say this film lacks QT’s panache would be an understatement. It’s not even as sharp as the movies “The Hateful Eight” rips off.
‘Outlaws and Angels’
Running time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills