Young Guns (1988)


I Sure Would Like to Touch the Gun That’s Gonna Kill Billy the Kid.

Apparently I had been neglecting a request made by Chris from a while back that he recently reminded me of on my fan page.  I get a pretty good amount of requests recently and sometimes they just slip my mind.  If I don’t write them down, I’ll probably never remember them.  So when he reminded me, I felt like I should get to it pretty quickly lest the poor fellow feel forgotten and take his life.  I can’t have that blood on my hands.  The movie he requested was fairly easy to grant too, because I already owned it.  The problem is that I had no recollection of the movie whatsoever.  It’s generally regarded as a classic movie, and always regarded as a Western.  I like classics just fine, but I’m a big fan of Westerns, so it seemed like a good idea anyway.  But how could I not remember anything about a movie that is so popular?  Maybe I can find out as I review Young Guns, written by John Fusco, directed by Christopher Cain, and starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, Terence Stamp, Jack Palance, Terry O’Quinn, Alice Carter, Patrick Wayne, Brian Keith, Sharon Thomas, and Geoffrey Blake.

An Englishman in Lincoln County, New Mexico by the name of John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) rescues a young man named William H. Bonney (Emilio Estevez) who was being chased by some men in the employ of Tunstall’s competitor, Lawrence Murphy (Jack Palance).  Tunstall takes him back to work on his ranch alongside other such lawless young men like Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland), Jose Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips), Richard M. “Dick” Brewer (Charlie Sheen), “Dirty” Steve Stephens (Dermot Mulroney), and Charlie Bowdre (Casey Siemaszko).  After a while, the conflict between Tunstall and Murphy comes to a head when Murphy sends his men to gun down Tunstall in cold blood.  Billy and the Regulators, as they start to call themselves, get themselves deputized to get warrants against the men who shot Tunstall, but Billy decides he’d rather just kill them instead of arresting them.  This practice soon makes them outlaws, and their exploits as outlaws soon earns Bonney the moniker of “Billy the Kid”.

I imagine this is going to hurt the feelings of some of the dedicated fans of this movie, but I have no idea what anyone likes about this thing.  I felt the need to double check with Rotten Tomatoes just to find out if I was crazy or not.  The critics agree with me, the fans agree with themselves.  I can’t say that there was anything in this movie that interested me in the slightest.  The story is a typical western, as best I can tell.  Someone shoots someone, other people don’t like it, and they go on a rampage for revenge.  But there was nothing in that rampage that was remotely interesting to me.  The story was scattered as they often seemed to lose focus on their goal in the movie.  One could assume that their goal was to kill Murphy, but they spent the bulk of the movie doing everything in their power to avoid actually taking care of that issue until it was forced on them in the last scenes of the movie.  That’s when it seemed Billy remembered what he was trying to do.  It wasn’t even an exciting climax to the movie.  They tried to infuse it with some emotional impact by having some of the main characters die, but poor writing and worse direction removed all impact from their deaths.  Being so distracted from their goals wouldn’t be an issue if what they did in the meantime was interesting, but it wasn’t.  It was usually just hiding from or killing random dudes associated with Murphy, or wasting time hanging out in a random town or doing peyote.  The peyote scene was a vaguely amusing bit of distraction, but I was probably more amused by the stupidity of leaving your weapons loaded when you decide to trip on balls on peyote.  But the real stupidity can be found in some of the dialogue.  The best example is something that the Asian girl (who was the star of another long bit of distraction from anything interesting) said to Doc.  In reference to him bringing her flowers that she turned down, she later says, “I keep the flowers in a little room inside my heart, and you visit me frequently there.”  Fer reals, bitch?  I know English is supposed to be your second language, but I think you just uttered the dumbest sentence I’ve ever watched come out of someone’s mouth.

The performances in the movie were not to blame for its boringness.  They all did admirable jobs, but had no control over the story or the direction.  Emilio Estevez usually came off as not taking any situation seriously, and that worked on my nerves on occasion, but as best I can tell that’s what Billy the Kid was like.  Kiefer Sutherland was usually a good character, but any time that he was interacting with Alice Carter was not.  He would recite poetry and usually seemed desperate.  I think I’d say I liked Lou Diamond Phillips’ character the best.  He was not usually the forefront of the characters, but was usually pretty badass when he was up front.

It’s probably not a popular sentiment about a pretty popular movie, but I have no idea why anyone remembers this movie.  It might have been a little bit cooler at the time, but watching it for the first time today I found it terribly boring, poorly written, and directed even worse.  The performances were all fine, but they couldn’t save the movie for me.  I was just bored all the way through.  Apparently, many others see something that I don’t, so I don’t know that I’d say you shouldn’t watch this movie, but I certainly don’t recommend it.  We’ll see if Young Guns 2 does anything for me tomorrow.  For today, Young Guns gets “Charley, if you don’t stand up and start whooping ass, you ain’t never gonna see her again” out of “It ain’t easy having pals.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

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