I don’t consider myself a western fanatic when it comes to the film genre, but I’ll admit if a story is presented well enough that I’m bound to get intrigued one way or another. So I present to you, Young Guns.
A 1988 film starring Emilio Estevez, brother Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland is what I found on television a few years ago. It stars a cast of people before they became the real deal, so I was interested to see how they performed. Estevez fell off the face of the Earth or something after The Mighty Ducks franchise so I wanted to see his role most of all.
It’s a film that isn’t too hard to follow but isn’t boring either. The film starts off with William H. Bonney (Estevez) escaping from some people who are looking forward to a hanging. Bonney is bailed out by cattle rancher John Tunstall (Terence Stamp), who is known for taking young men in trouble with the law and getting them back on their feet. In return, they make sure none of his property is stolen. It’s an admirable task to take on for a character and Stamp does a concrete job to back it up. However, life can’t be perfect. We’ve got Lawrence Murphy dealing with corrupt politicians to help him own the town, make tons of money, and force out all of his competitors, Tunstall being one of them.
The infamous Billy the Kid gets the recognition he deserves from Estevez, who’s having perhaps too much fun with this role. He’s making it look simply too easy, acting like a guy who doesn’t seem to have a care in the world and loves living life the way he’s living it: reckless and dangerous. He’s taking the law into his own hands here, taking the path of cool, hard vengeance rather than civil legality. Is it the right path to take? Who cares! It’s fun to watch, entertaining, and at times, spontaneous. You never know what to expect from Billy the Kid, but you know it’s going to be something witty and probably contain some sort of dark humor.
Kiefer Sutherland is the intellectual of the group, rightfully earning the nickname Doc. He’s a hopeless romantic and I sympathize with the guy because at times I feel like one myself. He’s reasonable, rational, and pretty much the opposite of Billy. The only reason he stays with him is because Billy’s good with the steel, which is very beneficial in their current predicament.
What really separates Young Guns from other films of the genre is its pacing, which is quickened and action-filled by director Christopher Cain. It’s lively and no one is safe from death, not even Billy the Kid although you would think that’s the case.
There’s a lot of killing, dying, chewing, riding horses, and twangy accents. It’s never lackluster for me despite the repetition though because it’s not so repetitious that it’s just dumb.
We’ve also got a supporting cast with Lou Diamond Phillips as Chavez the Navajo, the last of his people and he’s got a vendetta to pursue against Murphy and his gang. Casey Siemaszko plays Charlie, the one who displays some anxiety and fear and just wants out, even if he has to create some bullet holes to do so. We also got Dermot Mulroney as “Dirty” Steve Stephens, who’s just a downright hick. He’s got a dip in his mouth like the whole movie.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Lego Movie, Non-Stop, Divergent, Spider-Man 3, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Aliens, Alien Resurrection, Full Metal Jacket, Thor, You’re Next)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pitch Black, Alien, Serendipity, Cowboys and Aliens, 300: Rise of an Empire)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight Cowboy, Dark Fury, Alien 3, Open Grave)
My score for Young Guns: 83.
When the bloody sun sets, there will be a lot of dead bodies, a lot of witty lines delivered, and a lot of empty shells on the set of Young Guns, but chances are you’ll come out of the viewing unscathed but still entertained enough to want to see it again and then some.