Michael Jai White’s “Outlaw Johnny Black” is a good silly 90-minute western trapped in a 2-hour middling movie.


Read our Editorial Guidelines regarding how posts are written and rated and our use of affiliate links.


“Outlaw Johnny Black” General Information

Director(s) Michael Jai White
Screenplay By Bryon Minns and Michael Jai White
Based On N/A
Date Released (In Theaters) September 15, 2023
Genre(s) Action

Comedy

Western

Film Length 2 Hours, 10  Minutes
Content Rating Rated PG-13
Noted Characters and Cast
Outlaw Johnny Black Michael Jai White
Reverend Percy Byron Minns
Jessie Lee Anika Noni Rose
Brett Clayton Chris Browning

“Outlaw Johnny Black” Content Rating Explanation

“Outlaw Johnny Black” is rated PG-13 due to gun violence, sex, and profanity.

Film Summary

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text in this post may contain affiliate links. If a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company.

Michael Jai White’s “Outlaw Johnny Black” is a throwback to Italian westerns performed with silliness and love for its genre. The actor/director/martial artist is determined to send the audience back to a simpler time where we can escape watching men in goofy mustaches and cowboy hats. White is a captivating performer and detailed director in “Outlaw Johnny Black,” but the writing could have used another edit.

“Outlaw Johnny Black” follows Michael Jai White as the title character, looking to hunt down the man who killed his dad. He even has a bullet with the man’s name on it: Brett Clayton (Chris Browning). But, before Outlaw Johnny can get revenge, he has to deal with the law. This is when he stumbles upon Reverend Percy (played by co-writer and creative partner Byron Minns). He sees the chance to take on the preacher’s identity and start a new life in a new town.

Unfortunately for Johnny Black, this pioneer town needed a new preacher. They expect him to deliver sermons, and while Bessie Lee is infatuated with the reverend, her sister Jessie (Anika Noni Rose) is more skeptical of this new man who has come to town. But Johnny Black feels compelled to stay when he learns that this small, vulnerable town is the next target of the ruthless Brett Clayton. Johnny Black must hide his true identity as one of the fastest triggers in the west while hunting down his nemesis at the same time.

Outlaw Johnny Black 3
Michael Jai White writes, directs, and stars in “Outlaw Johnny Black”

“Outlaw Johnny Black” is an earnest tribute to the Western genre, with its gags coming from comedy tropes rather than Western tropes. Compared to its spiritual predecessor, “Black Dynamite,” “Outlaw Johnny Black” is breezier in its comedy and more interested in its character development.

White’s new movie may not always find its comedic footing, but it does find a character worthy of another adventure.

Other Noteworthy Information

  1. Michael Jai White writes, directs, and stars in “Outlaw Johnny Black.”
  2. Was initially intended to be a direct sequel to “Black Dynamite.”

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Outlaw Johnny Black

outlaw johnny black 1
Erica Ash and Michael Jai White together in “Outlaw Johnny Black” (directed by White, 2023)

Johnny Black is an outlaw who isn’t afraid to shoot or karate chop anyone who stands in his way of getting vengeance on the man who killed his father. Black thinks his mission is to hunt down Brett Clayton, but when he stumbles upon a small town and a woman named Jessie Lee, he begins to find a new perspective on life.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Black Dynamite,” their role in “Spawn,” and their role in “The Dark Knight.”

Reverend Percy

Reverend Percy is making his way to become a new town’s preacher but is stopped and ambushed by a native tribe. While the Reverend is an honest man, he also has his flaws and is actively pursuing Bessie Lee.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Black Dynamite.”

Jessie Lee

Jessie Lee is the sister of Bessie Lee. She’s a reasonable and tough protector of her town, always looking out for what’s best for her people. She’s initially skeptical of Outlaw Johnny Black but soon opens her heart to him.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Dreamgirls,” their role in “The Princess and the Frog,” and their role in “Let the Right One In” tv show.

Brett Clayton

Brett Clayton is a ruthless outlaw who takes pleasure in torturing his victims. He’s employed by wealthy businessman Tom Shelly to wreak havoc on a town if they don’t give up the deed to their place. Little do Brett and his henchmen know, but Outlaw Johnny Black is there too.

Review

Our Rating:  Mixed (Divisive)

Highlights

A Commitment to the Western Genre

“Outlaw Johnny Black” is theatrical and flamboyant in its portrayal of the Wild West, and much like how White parodied Blaxploitation films with “Black Dynamite,” he lovingly pays tribute to the Westerns of his youth. Actors get to chew up the scenery in wigs, mustaches, and flashy costumes. The music swells in the heart and keeps the film’s spirit high. “Outlaw Johnny Black” is at its best when its cast and crew get to play, and they get to play the most when parodying the genre.

outlaw johnny black 4
Michael Jai White and Bryon Minns write and star together in “Outlaw Johnny Black”

On The Fence

A Two-Hour-Plus Romp That Could Have Used Twenty Minutes Cut

“Outlaw Johnny Black” nails its end as plenty of Johnny’s old friends come together to save the small mining town, but the end could have been just as effective if these friends were in one or two scenes and not three. One unfortunate detour is Reverend Percy’s accidental marriage to a Native woman and his escape in a bird costume. Another repetitive scene was land baron Tom Shelly demanding that the town become his. The pacing slows when Johnny Black isn’t on the screen, and you feel it in the movie’s two-hour-plus run time.

The Jokes are Sparse and Sometimes Poorly Aged

“Outlaw Johnny Black” is filled with old jokes, especially at the expense of indigenous people, like a native man shedding one tear or a native unattractive “woman” being clearly a man. Michael Jai White and Byron Minns have comedic chemistry but are kept separate for a good chunk of the movie. While some visual gags and Johnny Black’s swagger are always fun, the Western genre feels like a wasted opportunity to parody.

Who Is This For?

Fans of Western comedies, Blaxploitation films, or those who enjoy the comedy of Michael Jai White’s “Black Dynamite” might also like “Outlaw Johnny Black.”

Recommendations

If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. Surrounded
  2. The Harder They Fall
  3. They Cloned Tyrone

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

FAQs

Answers to some questions you may have regarding this movie:

The Reason The Movie Is Named “Outlaw Johnny Black”

“Outlaw Johnny Black” is named after the title character and played by Michael Jai White.

Does “Outlaw Johnny Black” set up a sequel?

While no sequel has been announced, Johnny Black can easily return for another adventure in a sequel.

outlaw johnny black
Outlaw Johnny Black (2023) – Review and Summary
Overall
Compared to its spiritual predecessor, "Black Dynamite," "Outlaw Johnny Black" is breezier in its comedy and more interested in its character development. White’s new movie may not always find its comedic footing, but it does find a character worthy of another adventure. 
Highlights
A Commitment to the Western Genre
Michael Jai White's Sheer Charm
Disputable
A Two-Hour-Plus Romp That Could Have Used Twenty Minutes Cut
The Jokes are Sparse and Sometimes Poorly Aged
75

Listed Under Categories: ,


Follow, Like and Subscribe


Sending
User Review
0 (0 votes)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.