Walter Hill's The Long Riders chronicles the origins, exploits, and ultimate fate of the James Gang during the late 1800s. Casting real life brothers to make up the James-Younger gang (Dennis & Randy Quaid, and Keith & David Carrandine and Stacey & James Keach), Hill creates a sympathetic portrayal of the legendary outlaws. Hill's lean and mean style is a perfect fit for the material, as he covers a ton of ground in very little time, never all that interested in capturing a specific character's point-of-view. I believe this was an intentional decision of the directors, wanting to capture these men as a unit more so then as individuals. This is a film much more interested in the personal lives of the James-Young Gang, giving very little screen time to the various heists they commit along the way. Brotherhood, family, and most of all survival are central themes to the story, with Hill showing how their legendary bank raids began as an act of revenge. Reminiscent of the time in cinema, the action scenes in The Long Riders use an abundance of slow-motion, with Walter Hill intent on capturing the carnage of these gun-fights in gruesome detail. This use of slow-motion combined with kinetic editing make the few action scenes of the film chaotic and intense, particularly during the final shootout which is quite memorable. Walter Hill's The Long Rider's is a lesser film in the director's canon but its sympathetic portrayal of these legendary outlaws make it worth a watch.
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