Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Young Guns 2 Review

Young Guns II (1990)
Dir. Geoff Murphy
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Philips, Christian Slater, William Petersen, James Coburn

The continuing adventures of Billy the Kid (Estevez) in the aftermath of the Lincoln County Wars, including his pursuit by former friend Pat Garrett (Petersen).

Of course they would make a sequel to Young Guns, it made 3 times it's budget. But the original film felt like it wasn't made with a sequel in mind, ending by splitting the characters up while Kiefer Sutherland's Doc narrating an epilogue explaining the fates of the surviving characters. This leads to a sequel that has to spend a third of its runtime "getting the band back together", so they can go on another adventure. Really it would probably been better off jettisoning the characters of Doc and Jose Chavez y Chavez (Philips) and just focusing on Estevez's Billy the Kid in a spinoff film, especially when you factor in that Sutherland refused to be in the movie unless his character died*, changing the history of the person that the character is based on.

The most interesting thing is that the movie has bookends with an Estevez in old man makeup as Brushy Bill Roberts**, and man that in the 1940s claimed to be Billy the Kid, telling the story of the film. This sets up the film as a story being told by an unreliable narrator. This could explain why the characters come across more cool than they did in the first movie. Sutherland's character Doc narrated at the end of that, making the movie seem like it was from his point of view, presenting a crazy Billy the Kid that Doc feared***, while this movie presents an older Billy the Kid retelling his story in a way that presents him more like a noble Robin Hood. Granted I could be over thinking it and it could be because Emilio Estevez was concerned by how he looked in the film, and it wanted to be more badass.

There are some good things about the movie though. On paper the movie has a better cast than the first but no one is as good or memorable as Stamp and Palance were in those films.The closest thing you get is James Coburn briefly showing up, but his part isn't as fun as Stamp and Palance's roles were in the first , and unfortunately it's kind of forgettable. William Petersen is a better Pat Garrett than Patrick Wayne was in the first film. The role is also better/more beefed up in this movie, and due to that the film needed a stronger actor in the role. The first film made Billy and Pat seem more like passing acquaintances, but this one makes them out to be closer friends and gang members, and you needed a stronger actor to make those scenes work. There's also a young pre-Lord of the Rings Viggo Mortensen playing a bounty hunter, and he gets more to do in this film that he does in Witness (meaning he has dialogue in the finished film). Christian Slater is alright in the film. He gets some good moments, like him being excited when the mob leader calls out his character's name during their assault. The prisoner rescue/Lynch mob attack is a fun scene, and the movie looks a lot better than the first one. Like the first film, this one was shot by Dean Semler, so it could be due to better cameras or film stock being used.

While neither film is great, this movie (like the first) is not bad. It's fun at times, but it isn't going to make you rethink anything. If you had to watch an 80s western, the really you'd be better off watching Silverado. But these are decent.

*I don't know if Lou Diamond Philips made a similar demand of his character. The real Jose Chavez y Chavez lived to be 73.

**He wasn't the only one. Several other made similar claims and in the Forties were all proven or just believed to be false.

***The scene in the first film in the bar where Billy kills a man then asks about the number of people he has killed, and his dialogue with Doc it does seem like Doc is afraid of Billy.

No comments:

Post a Comment