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The Newton Boys Reviews

Page 1 of 9
LWOODS04
LWOODS04

Super Reviewer

September 10, 2009
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Skeet Ulrich, Ethan Hawke, Gail Cronauer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jena Karam, Julianna Margulies, Casey McAuliffe, Dwight Yoakam

Director: Richard Linklater

Summary: Four Texan brothers (Vincent D'Onofrio, Ethan Hawke, Matthew McConaughey and Skeet Ulrich) ignite a crime spree in the 1920s, robbing more than 200 banks across the nation -- without ever killing anyone. In a career highlight, the unexpectedly compassionate team pulls off the largest train robbery in U.S. history. Richard Linklater (School of Rock) directs this heist film, based on a true story, that focuses more on characters.

My Thoughts: "I hadn't planned on seeing this film, but the cast of the film changed my mind. Great cast of talented actors. They were really good together in this movie. Also it being based on a true story helped reel me in as well. I really enjoyed the movie. I was surprised by the lack of action, considering the film is based on bank robbing. But then again I enjoyed that they focused more on the character's. Gave you a chance to know them and to care for the character's. Might not be to everyone's liking, but it wasn't a waste of my time and I am glad I watched it."
Flutie A

Super Reviewer

April 8, 2009
I was pleasantly surprised at how good this movie turned out. To be honest, I'd never heard of it until a friend recommended it (based on a very old trailer on IMDb).

It came out during 1998, which saw both "Mask of Zorro" and "Armageddon", so maybe that's one reason for me never hearing about it. I think it was right before Matthew McConnaughey broke onto the scene.

Either way, I just plain enjoyed watching it...They show interviews from a couple of the real Newton Boys as the credits roll, which are pretty good. In particular, the interview on Johnny Carson is pretty funny.

This makes me even more excited for "Public Enemies", another bank-robbery movie...They even have a minor character in here who supposedly goes on to work with John Dillinger, the guy that movie will be focused on.
Jason S

Super Reviewer

March 25, 2009
A good period movie with a really good cast but the movie starts to drag after a while.
deano
deano

Super Reviewer

August 24, 2008
Between 1919 and 1924, Willis Newton and his three brothers robbed more than 80 banks from Texas to Canada, then capped their career with America's largest train robbery - very interested since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Unfortunately these four actors aren't given more than a shred of depth between them. Fast-forward to the closing credits footage of actual Newtons who are much more captivating than the fictitious younger selves portrayed here.
Megan S

Super Reviewer

February 23, 2007
Stopped this movie before it was over.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

April 24, 2014
This film's title sounds either like some sort of a classic pop band or something to that effect, or, well, a cue for a narration by Waylon Jennings. "Looks like them Newton boys have themselves in a whole heap o' trouble". I joke, but this film does see Richard Linklater finally cutting back on kissing Austin's liberal feet and working on embracing more rural parts of Texas, even though he's still far from Hazzard County, Georgia. Well, this film's cast is so modern Texan that it stars Matt McConaughey and, even worse, Ethan Hawke, so that might make up for the moderate de-Austinification. Shoot, if nothing else, this film's cast shows that Linklater, by the end of the '90s, was starting to cut back on the no-names and get some big stars, which would be great and all if this film actually got any money. I find it interesting that people found Linklater's previous films about various kinds of bums walking and talking about whatever interesting enough to make them solid box office successes, yet when Linklater does something interesting, like telling the true story of bank robbers, hardly anyone goes... probably because this film isn't as exciting as one might expect. No, it's a little livelier than plenty of Linklater's other affairs, but entertainment value is limited, no matter how much the film tries to fluff things up, perhaps too much.

His directorial influence obviously filtered through commercialization of the magnitude he hadn't seen up until this time, Richard Linklater cannot overshadow moments of overt fluff that cheese up the lighter aspects which, quite frankly, are perhaps a little too prominent in this dramatically promising opus, yet when Linklater does work in drama, he sustains the fluff and joins his and Clark Lee Walker's unsubtle dialogue to establish a sense of melodrama that superficializes depth. Such depth is superficialized enough by such other writing shortcomings as lacking characterization, which not only thins out the layers that could have been abundant in this character study, but focuses a touch too intensely on only a few primary characters, while leaving supporting roles that could have enriched the plot to feel as though they're placed much lower in priority than they ought to be. Linklater and Walker, as screenwriters, give you only so much to chew on in this ostensibly layered ensemble piece, and when they actually try to expand focus, it jars, forcing shifts between fluff and weight, despite a consistency in cheesiness, when not dropping the ball when it comes to organically flowing along the plot layers. The film has a lot of material to cover, and when it's not disregarding some of its depths, it's juggling the layers a little unevenly, and yet, as much as the film proves to be too tight for comfort in certain places, it's still too long, meandering enough along repetitious filler and excesses in material to drag its way to its two-hour runtime, only to end up going places that are expected. As if the overplaying on humor and superficial dramatics and characterization aren't reflective enough of this film's being too commercial for its own good, the final product hardly does anything new as a bank-robbing gangster period flick, thriving on stereotypical characters, formulaic plot beats and altogether a plethora of tropes, until, even if you're somehow not aware of the story of the Newton Gang, predictability stands firm. Not much is new in this film, which therefore has only so much worth remembering, for although there's plenty of inspiration, the laziness to subtlety, depth and structuring help in crafting a film that isn't engaging enough to endear as thoroughly as one might hope. Regardless, the film endears adequately, sometimes pretty solidly, being pretty entertaining, and even handsome.

Trying to put a little more scope to a once-intimate visual style, Richard Linklater doesn't utilize his trademark smooth framing and trademark tracking shots that much in this film, but Peter James' cinematography makes up for visual style limitations with well-polished coloration and warm lighting which, while not too attractive during darker scenes, catches your eyes often, though not as consistently as the art direction whose handsomeness goes augmented by the visual style. Yes, as a tribute to some of the more then-modern Texas landscapes of the 1920s, this film goes all out in distinguishing its setting, thus, art directors Andrea Dopaso, John Frick and Randy Moore go all out in making the visuals of the period appealing in their near-intricate distinctiveness, if not aesthetic quality. Style is there, and when it comes to substance, the film falls short when it comes to doing justice to an interesting portrait on the struggles of and dynamics between the blood-bound members of the Newton Gang and their peers, but not too short, because as questionable as Clark Lee Walker and Richard Linklater are in their writing a rather superficially characterized and dramatically uneven script, dialogue is generally sharp enough to amuse, and heavier aspects are genuine enough, or at least hearty enough in their ambitious melodrama to bite. In concept, the narrative gets juicier and juicier as it progresses as a character study, but as irony would have it, the execution gradually loses steam the more you get used to the faulty writing, yet there's enough momentum throughout the final product to keep you engaged by a decent script, in which there is enough material to at least inspire some decent performances. Now, dramatic material is certainly lacking, but this solid, almost all-star cast delivers as best it can, with leading man Matthew McConaughey particularly standing out with his charisma, at least until heavier dramatic spots come into play and allow McConaughey's peers to match him in emoting that is solid enough to encompass the meat that can indeed be found through all the superficialities of this light drama. The onscreen talent does what it can and delivers consistently, whereas the offscreen talent carries lazy spots, in addition to ambitious spots that fall short, and yet, the film still comes to the brink of rewarding, largely on the back of ambition's being met with inspiration in direction by Linklater that is held back, either by the producers or by Linklater's not having too much conviction to transcend the producers' superficial tastes, but well-paced enough to keep entertainment value adequate, if not with steady moments that prove effective in drawing on the limited depths of this drama, and providing glimpses into what could have been. What ultimately is in this project is an underwhelming effort that betrays potential, which still stands clear enough in view for the final product to entertain and often engage as a borderline, if only "borderline" rewarding affair.

Bottom line, cheesy spots in humor and melodrama, superficiality to characterization, inconsistency to tone and pacing, and an overall lack of originality leave the film to limp out as underwhelming, while inspiration to handsome visual style, distinguished art direction, charismatic performances and sharp highlights in writing and direction secure Richard Linklater's "The Newton Boys" as a plenty entertaining and almost plenty compelling period biopic, despite its superficiality.

2.75/5 - Decent
Jason R

Super Reviewer

March 1, 2011
The story is absolutley fantastic, and the acting is surprisingly good considering most of the actors in the film wouldn't have been my first pick to play bank robbers from the 20's. But they work very well together, and it is a lot of fun to watch.
alanjayh
alanjayh

Super Reviewer

May 6, 2010
An ok watch about a true band of brothers back in the 1920's who robbed many banks. The acting is competent, but the story seems to lack any authentic dramatic impact. The most interesting part to me was the epilogue that detailed the fates of each character as well as the interjecting of interviews with two of the real newton brothers.
Matthew L

Super Reviewer

October 20, 2009
For anyone that likes bank robber movies, this one is seldom talked about. The cast is some of the most up and coming with McConaughey leading the bunch and little known Julianne Margulies costarring. The story is true and has tons of action and the story is fast moving and interesting. What is more interesting is that everything is true and McConaughey nails this performance and so does Ethan Hawke and is an exact match to the main character as seen in the end credits. This is what makes this even better. They show a cameo of the two characters from the movie in real life and it makes it more credible. Awesome movie and great acting!
GabrielKnight
November 9, 2013
A stylish and decidedly old-fashioned movie based on true story. Unfortunately it becomes somewhat unfocused and loses dramatic impact as the story goes along.
jjb3332003
August 31, 2007
empty, fragmented, and uninspired. Best part of the movie is the actual interviews with 2 of the Newton Bros.
wpoohtx
April 7, 2007
Great movie for Matthew. He's a great actor, no matter what type of part he play's. He's a natural.
sycogirl16
August 19, 2006
I like this movie. The acting was good and I think it was really cool documenting bank robbers from the 1920's.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

April 24, 2014
This film's title sounds either like some sort of a classic pop band or something to that effect, or, well, a cue for a narration by Waylon Jennings. "Looks like them Newton boys have themselves in a whole heap o' trouble". I joke, but this film does see Richard Linklater finally cutting back on kissing Austin's liberal feet and working on embracing more rural parts of Texas, even though he's still far from Hazzard County, Georgia. Well, this film's cast is so modern Texan that it stars Matt McConaughey and, even worse, Ethan Hawke, so that might make up for the moderate de-Austinification. Shoot, if nothing else, this film's cast shows that Linklater, by the end of the '90s, was starting to cut back on the no-names and get some big stars, which would be great and all if this film actually got any money. I find it interesting that people found Linklater's previous films about various kinds of bums walking and talking about whatever interesting enough to make them solid box office successes, yet when Linklater does something interesting, like telling the true story of bank robbers, hardly anyone goes... probably because this film isn't as exciting as one might expect. No, it's a little livelier than plenty of Linklater's other affairs, but entertainment value is limited, no matter how much the film tries to fluff things up, perhaps too much.

His directorial influence obviously filtered through commercialization of the magnitude he hadn't seen up until this time, Richard Linklater cannot overshadow moments of overt fluff that cheese up the lighter aspects which, quite frankly, are perhaps a little too prominent in this dramatically promising opus, yet when Linklater does work in drama, he sustains the fluff and joins his and Clark Lee Walker's unsubtle dialogue to establish a sense of melodrama that superficializes depth. Such depth is superficialized enough by such other writing shortcomings as lacking characterization, which not only thins out the layers that could have been abundant in this character study, but focuses a touch too intensely on only a few primary characters, while leaving supporting roles that could have enriched the plot to feel as though they're placed much lower in priority than they ought to be. Linklater and Walker, as screenwriters, give you only so much to chew on in this ostensibly layered ensemble piece, and when they actually try to expand focus, it jars, forcing shifts between fluff and weight, despite a consistency in cheesiness, when not dropping the ball when it comes to organically flowing along the plot layers. The film has a lot of material to cover, and when it's not disregarding some of its depths, it's juggling the layers a little unevenly, and yet, as much as the film proves to be too tight for comfort in certain places, it's still too long, meandering enough along repetitious filler and excesses in material to drag its way to its two-hour runtime, only to end up going places that are expected. As if the overplaying on humor and superficial dramatics and characterization aren't reflective enough of this film's being too commercial for its own good, the final product hardly does anything new as a bank-robbing gangster period flick, thriving on stereotypical characters, formulaic plot beats and altogether a plethora of tropes, until, even if you're somehow not aware of the story of the Newton Gang, predictability stands firm. Not much is new in this film, which therefore has only so much worth remembering, for although there's plenty of inspiration, the laziness to subtlety, depth and structuring help in crafting a film that isn't engaging enough to endear as thoroughly as one might hope. Regardless, the film endears adequately, sometimes pretty solidly, being pretty entertaining, and even handsome.

Trying to put a little more scope to a once-intimate visual style, Richard Linklater doesn't utilize his trademark smooth framing and trademark tracking shots that much in this film, but Peter James' cinematography makes up for visual style limitations with well-polished coloration and warm lighting which, while not too attractive during darker scenes, catches your eyes often, though not as consistently as the art direction whose handsomeness goes augmented by the visual style. Yes, as a tribute to some of the more then-modern Texas landscapes of the 1920s, this film goes all out in distinguishing its setting, thus, art directors Andrea Dopaso, John Frick and Randy Moore go all out in making the visuals of the period appealing in their near-intricate distinctiveness, if not aesthetic quality. Style is there, and when it comes to substance, the film falls short when it comes to doing justice to an interesting portrait on the struggles of and dynamics between the blood-bound members of the Newton Gang and their peers, but not too short, because as questionable as Clark Lee Walker and Richard Linklater are in their writing a rather superficially characterized and dramatically uneven script, dialogue is generally sharp enough to amuse, and heavier aspects are genuine enough, or at least hearty enough in their ambitious melodrama to bite. In concept, the narrative gets juicier and juicier as it progresses as a character study, but as irony would have it, the execution gradually loses steam the more you get used to the faulty writing, yet there's enough momentum throughout the final product to keep you engaged by a decent script, in which there is enough material to at least inspire some decent performances. Now, dramatic material is certainly lacking, but this solid, almost all-star cast delivers as best it can, with leading man Matthew McConaughey particularly standing out with his charisma, at least until heavier dramatic spots come into play and allow McConaughey's peers to match him in emoting that is solid enough to encompass the meat that can indeed be found through all the superficialities of this light drama. The onscreen talent does what it can and delivers consistently, whereas the offscreen talent carries lazy spots, in addition to ambitious spots that fall short, and yet, the film still comes to the brink of rewarding, largely on the back of ambition's being met with inspiration in direction by Linklater that is held back, either by the producers or by Linklater's not having too much conviction to transcend the producers' superficial tastes, but well-paced enough to keep entertainment value adequate, if not with steady moments that prove effective in drawing on the limited depths of this drama, and providing glimpses into what could have been. What ultimately is in this project is an underwhelming effort that betrays potential, which still stands clear enough in view for the final product to entertain and often engage as a borderline, if only "borderline" rewarding affair.

Bottom line, cheesy spots in humor and melodrama, superficiality to characterization, inconsistency to tone and pacing, and an overall lack of originality leave the film to limp out as underwhelming, while inspiration to handsome visual style, distinguished art direction, charismatic performances and sharp highlights in writing and direction secure Richard Linklater's "The Newton Boys" as a plenty entertaining and almost plenty compelling period biopic, despite its superficiality.

2.75/5 - Decent
KevinRobbins
November 22, 2013
I got the sheriff's pecker in my pocket

Four Texas cowboys from a poor farming family in the 20s decide a poor man's life is not the life for them. They head on a rampage of robbing banks across the country. They rob over 80 banks and 6 trains without ever getting caught or killing someone; however, one day a new group they decide to work with causes things to go astray. Can the Newton boys quit the game and start a new life, or are they destined for jail or maybe even death?

"You don't look like any criminal I've met."
"You'd be right about that."

Richard Linklater, director of Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, The School of Rock, Before Sunset, Bad News Bears, A Scanner Darkly, Bernie, and Before Midnight, delivers The Newton Boys. The storyline for this picture is very interesting and reminded me of Lawless. The action scenes are solid, the script is well written, and the character development is very good. The cast delivers worthwhile performances and includes Mathew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Skeet Ulrich, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Gail Cronauer.

"Ain't this a hell of a way to make a living?"

I've actually began watching more Mathew McConaughey movies after thoroughly enjoying his last few pictures (Paper Boy, Mud and Killer Joe). I actually thought this movie was better than I anticipated (I had never heard of it until I scrolled through his movies). I loved how they showed interviews with the actual Newton Boys during the closing credits. Overall, this is an entertaining gangster movie and period piece that is definitely worth your time.

"God hates a coward."

Grade: B
September 11, 2013
Uninspired tale of four bank-robbing brothers in the 1920s. Nice period details, but it's ultimately a dull two hours.
August 4, 2013
an good bank robbing movie
ray
July 2, 2013
Richard Linklater hat so viele gute Filme gemacht, ich bin willig ihm viel zu verzeihen. Zum Beispiel dass er allzu oft Projekte übernommen hat, die augenscheinlich keine persönlichen sind, und in denen dann folglich auch nicht sein Herzblut steckt.

Herzblut ist für Linklaters Oeuvre aber essentiell. Nur so kommen seine genialen Dialoge zur Entfaltung und der Charme der Banalität des Alltags zum Tragen.

Wie auch immer, The Newton Boys vereint Linklater Regulars Ethan Hawke und Matthew McConaughey als Brüder neben Skeet Ulrich und Vincent D'Onofrio. Diese Brüder sind die Newton Boys, und sie rauben Banken aus.

Angesiedelt in einer Ära zwischen Western und den klassischen Gangstergeschichten der 30er Jahre ist nicht uninteressant, aber nach und nach verändert sich der Film dann doch zum recht generischen Gangsterdrama.

Die Newton Boys waren die erfolgreichsten Bankräuber in der Geschichte der USA, und keiner von ihnen stirbt, so viel sei verraten, somit stellen die Jungs eine Rarität in der organisierten Kriminalität der Vereinigten Staaten dar. Sie sind eine Gruppe Cowboys, die sich nicht mit Armut und Mühsal begnügen wollen und ein alternatives" Geschäftsmodell aufziehen.

Wer einen Linklater-Film erwartet wird enttäuscht sein, The Newton Boys ist Hollywooddurchschnittsware, wenn er auch in gewisser Hinsicht an seinen späteren Film Bernie erinnert. Einzig die Schauspieler und der geniale Soundtrack wissen vollends zu überzeugen.

Der Film ist, wie gesagt, kein Revolutionär des Genres, aber alles in allem ganz ok, überhaupt wenn Ethan Hawke denn Mund aufmacht so gar hie und da ganz lustig.
June 29, 2013
A true story of the Newton brothers, who are regarded as the most successful bank robbers in the history of the United States. Not as good as i thought it was going to be kind of a let down !!
November 20, 2012
The only not-so-good Linklater movie.
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