While it’s not as dynamic as an early Robert Rodriguez film, Outnumbered manages to ooze passion in its action sequences.
Plot: Bonded brothers, a bandaged boy and a band of bandits lead to a twist of fate in Outnumbered, an Australian Western (wouldn’t that technically make it an Eastern?) from Emmett Adcock and Gunsmauch Pictures. Brothers Billy and Jack (Christopher and Matthew Mauch) take in a young man who is wounded during a stagecoach robbery by a criminal organization led by a man known as Crocker (Ian Sanderson). As fate would have it, Crocker (pronounced “Croaker”) is the same man who murdered Billy and Jack’s father a decade prior, and the local sheriff (George McVeigh) reveals just how much of a villain Crocker truly is, via plenty of expository dialogue. What could happen once they encounter Crocker as adults? Is the smarter move to run and hide or fight head on? Will the brothers seek safety, revenge, or justice?
Review: At face value, an Australian Western is intriguing for two reasons: the first being that Australia is as geographically Eastern as you can get, the second being that Australia is already known to the international audience as having an almost mythical level of lethality from wildlife and environment alone. If it’s not kangaroos or cobras, could it be quicksand? Adding outlaws to the mix, you’d BETTER be tough… which brings us to the characters and story here. Outnumbered’s lack of structure and sometimes limited settings betray its inflated length, but it is still a compelling presentation, nonetheless. The primary protagonist and antagonist each carry this film via the extreme nature of their differences; there isn’t much in the way of “shades of gray” here. Much of the dialogue could probably have been cut in half and reached the same effectiveness, only with half the Shatner-esque line delivery. Performances range from rock solid to lacking intensity, but even in the cases of the uneven and less than stellar acting, the soundtrack adds quite a bit throughout. The focus and build of the first act is all but lost like a wild horse in the second and much of the third act, but the action, occasionally tonal and moody cinematography, and some inspiring work from the extras reel it back in to retain audience interest.
Speaking of action, Outnumbered is awfully ambitious despite its limitations and obvious lack of filmmaking experience from some of the cast and crew. Some slick gunplay is immediately apparent, as is the dedication to making things look serious and establishing the stakes. There are times when some tighter choreography, creative camera work and higher level of physicality would have made a difference, however, and the CG squibs probably could have been replaced entirely with quality prosthetics and “natural” blood spurts to greater cinematic effect. Still, while it’s not as dynamic as an early Robert Rodriguez film, Outnumbered manages to ooze passion in its action sequences.
Outnumbered might not be a Western in a literal sense of the setting, but it embraces the spirit of the genre and earns the spot just fine. Like most Western protagonists and movies in general, there are flaws and limitations, but even the Italian Westerns had to work around dialogue that sounded like “Hey Buddy” but spoken like “Go Suitcase.” Adcock and Noske clearly put in a ton of effort in this small production, and it shows with every twirling revolver and stoic expression. For those with ample attention span ammo, it’s worth a shot.