Reviewer’s grade: C
The coward Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) is obsessed with the outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt). Ever since he was a kid, Ford has read stories about James and saved every newspaper clipping of his murderous exploits in a shoe box under his bed.
It’s nearing the end of the line for James, and he decides to pull off a few last heists, but his gang is pretty much dead or in jail. So Ford and his brother help out, shoot up some trains, rob some sacks of cash, and the wimp becomes even more obsessed with his hero. This creeps everyone out, so they do what any good gunslingers do: tease and torment Ford constantly. Ford finally snaps, turns rat and eventually kills the outlaw in the most cowardly way. He gets the fame he wants, but not really.
Folks love an outlaw, and hate a coward. Not really a Western and longer than any dusty trail, “The Assassination of Jesse James” is kind of hard to get into, but offers a unique look at the outlaw and his downfall. R