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Case Number 24258: Small Claims Court

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Cole Younger and the Black Train

Lionsgate // 2012 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 4th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson rode the Black Train—straight to Hell. Or was it Poughkeepsie?

The Charge

Let's wear some cowboy hats and make a movie!

The Case

Michael Madsen "stars" in this micro-budget Western about rugged outlaw Cole Younger (Cody McCarver) and how he hooked up with Jesse James (Tripp Courtney) and his band of criminal gunslingers. Meanwhile, a young man who looks like he's like 13 years-old gets dragged into a posse tasked with hunting the gang down. Madsen shows up here and there as a gruff lawman, but don't be fooled—he's barely in this.

Cole Younger and the Black Train is another entry in the stable of director Christopher Forbes, who also bought us similarly low-impact (and sporadically Madsen-populated) westerns like All Hell Broke Loose and A Cold Day in Hell. Perhaps he should've gone for the trilogy and named his latest project They'll Probably Watch this Terrible Movie in Hell.

Forbes' earlier works were no great shakes, but I don't remember them being as awful as this.

Actors are walking in front of the camera, obstructing other actors with their pants and cowboy hats. Characters utter half-baked lines standing in the middle of a wind-swept prairie, conflicting with dialogue obviously emanating from a vacuum-sealed recording studio. We're dealing with amateurs here, and their community theater machinations are painful to watch.

But even performances delivered by classically trained Shakespearean thespians couldn't have saved this writing. The plot is a sinkhole sucking all manner of ineptitude into the void. The pacing is molasses-slow, broken up occasionally by its pop-gun action scenes. And the promise of an exciting train heist, as depicted on the disc cover? Let's just say: don't get your hopes up.

Really, I can't think of anything redeeming to say about Cole Younger and the Black Train, other than the people involved were obviously earnest in their efforts. But a lack of cynicism or contempt for the audience is no match for a devastating lack of talent or execution. Look for superior Western thrills in your choice of episodes from The Young Riders.

The disc: standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 5.1 Surround, and a photo gallery.

The Verdict

Guilty. Hogtie this one and leave it on the nearest set of railroad tracks.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 40

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (CC)
• Spanish
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
• Bad
• Western

Distinguishing Marks

• Photo Gallery


• IMDb

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