Directed by Stephen McCallum.
Starring Ryan Corr, Abbey Lee, Eddie Baroo, Simone Kessell, Matt Nable, Josh McConville and Jacqui Williams.
A biker in a gang must betray the brutal club President in order to save his brother’s life.
“You’re a fake… You might as well be a male model” says Knuck (Matt Nable – Arrow) to Paddo (Ryan Corr – Wolf Creek 2) at one point during Outlaws, the debut feature from director Stephen McCallum, and he is right – Paddo is a fake but so is Ryan Corr, who is far too pretty to be one of the bikers in the Copperhead gang. Knuck has recently been released from prison and back to take over as president from Paddo, the Vice President who was left in charge during Knuck’s incarceration, but since he was put inside things have changed. For one thing, there are now a lot of faces in the Copperheads that Knuck doesn’t recognise but the major change is that Paddo is keen to go into business with a rival gang, laundering money and giving Paddo the chance to earn some serious legitimate cash, something that Paddo’s girlfriend Katrina (Abbey Lee – The Neon Demon) is very keen on as she pushes Paddo to be more manly and take on Knuck for control of the gang.
However, things aren’t that simple as Paddo also has to look after his intellectually challenged brother Skink (Josh McConville – The Infinite Man), who is kicked out of the gang for bringing heroin to the clubhouse and is easily manipulated by the scheming Katrina, forcing Paddo to split the gang into a standoff with Knuck, who isn’t going to go easily.
And there are a few more things going on to help build some characters and add some plot details, most notably that since he has been imprisoned Knuck has taken to raping young men, something that has continued on the outside unbeknownst to Knuck’s wife Hayley (Simone Kessell – San Andreas) but painfully obvious to everyone else, which also gives Paddo and Katrina more ammunition with which to topple Knuck – and, by extension, Hayley – from their perch.
Rather than be a throwback to ’60s/’70s biker movies that the likes of Hell Ride and Nude Nuns with Big Guns tried to replicate in the wake of Grindhouse, Outlaws has no pretensions of being anything other than a straight-up gritty drama with a grim outlook and very little flair, and that is not meant as a criticism as Stephen McCallum delivers a very solidly put together movie but it is relentlessly bleak, even during the rare moments that somebody isn’t being given a good kicking. The script, written by Matt Nable, doesn’t offer up anything other than what you would expect from characters like Knuck, Skink and Hayley – easily the three most interesting characters, if truth be told – and there are very few surprises as the story unfolds in exactly the manner you would expect a movie about meat-headed macho men and the way they treat those close to them to be, the film really hinging on how believable the performances from the cast are.
And that is where the biggest drawback comes because, as previously mentioned, Ryan Corr just does not look like he belongs in the Copperheads right from the start. It takes more than just growing your hair and a beard to look the part and he is simply too chiselled and lean to really fit in with the likes of Matt Nable and Eddie Baroo when it comes to looking like he drinks out of oil sumps for nutrition. His performance is also very underplayed, especially when he it comes to confronting Knuck, and whether that was a conscious decision by the actor or the director it makes Paddo a difficult character to get behind, even though Katrina keeps telling him that everyone loves and respects him. That may be true but it never really comes across, whereas the fear that Knuck commands is very potent and makes him the focal point, even when he is not on the screen.
Nevertheless, Outlaws is still engaging enough to fill its 90-minute running time and although it is far from perfect it does show a bit of promise from Stephen McCallum as a director. It could be argued that some of Knuck’s actions and use of homophobic language are questionable in this day and age but – rightly or wrongly – it fits in with the character, and if you go into Outlaws expecting a polished and inoffensive ride then think again because this is brutal stuff designed to appeal on a primal level, which it does very well.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★