I Shall Finish the Game.
Yesterday was bad times for me. I got myself all set to have some fun reviewing a movie that was generally regarded as a classic western, only to be let down when it did nothing for me. But there was a sequel to this movie that may fix it for me. Unfortunately, Rotten Tomatoes claims this movie is even worse than the first movie. …Damnit. Well, Chris requested the first one, and I already own the second one, so I’m going to do it anyway. And that’s how I came to review Young Guns II, written by John Fusco, directed by Geoff Murphy, and starring Emilio Estevez, William Petersen, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christian Slater, Alan Ruck, Viggo Mortensen, R. D. Call, James Cobern, Balthazar Getty, Ginger Lynn Allen, Scott Wilson, and Tracey Walter.
An old guy named Brushy Bill Roberts tells an attorney that he would like to get the pardon that was promised to him when he was younger, back when he was known as William H. Bonney, or Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez). We jump into an hour and a half long flashback that starts with Billy after the dissolution of the Regulators, now working with “Arkansas” Dave Rudabaugh (Christian Slater) and Pat Garrett (William Petersen). Billy agrees to meet with Governor Lew Wallace (Scott Wilson), and then agrees to testify against the Murphy faction from the first movie to receive a pardon, but soon finds that it was just a trick to arrest him. While escaping, he finds that his old partners in the Regulators, Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland) and Jose Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) were also captured, so he saves them as well. His gang decides it’s time to head to Mexico to escape their troubles, but without Pat Garrett, who takes a job as Lincoln County Sheriff to hunt down Billy and kill him for $1000.
This movie actually worked out a little bit better for me. I still wouldn’t call it a great movie, but it was more fun and much more enjoyable than the movie that came before it. It was more fun this go around, but still a completely confused story. They still weren’t able to keep on any coherent story. Billy gets arrested, reunites with his friends, tries to go to Mexico, changes his mind, gets arrested again, escapes again, and the story goes on like this. What sets this story apart from the first movie is that it was a little more fun to watch. The action was realized in a better way that made them more exciting. The emotional scenes were also allowed to have the weight to mean something to us. What an interesting idea to let emotional scenes have some weight! This would come mostly from Billy’s growing feelings that his time as an outlaw was coming to an end, his feelings of betrayal from what Pat Garrett was doing, and the loss of some of his friends. But the new director of this movie knew how to film and cut this so that it would work for the audience. I was also a fan of the bookending with Billy as an old man telling the story to the attorney, and even more of a fan of the fact that they didn’t overdo it. The dialogue was also greatly improved for this movie. The only thing I kept thinking while watching the first movie was that I thought Billy was supposed to say, “I’ll make you famous,” at some point, and it never came. That’s because it was in this movie.
The performances were relatively unchanged as the actors were relatively unchanged. Emilio Estevez still played Billy like he really enjoyed his own company, regardless of the relatively low percentage of funny things that were coming out of his mouth. But that being the character he was going for, I can’t criticize it. I still liked Lou Diamond Phillips the most because his character was the most awesome. Dude takes a giant knife through the forearm and doesn’t even flinch! Kiefer Sutherland replaced his lame moments of lovey-doveyness with being a bit of a complainer. I had no issues with William Petersen as Pat Garrett, but I did take issue with Christian Slater as “Arkansas” Dave Rudabaugh. Why would anyone ever let this guy on their team? He was always acting like he was running the team or doing something horrible to piss off someone on the team, specifically Chavez. He was a pretty irritating and unnecessary addition to the team.
Young Guns II had similar story problems to its predecessor, but was able to infuse a little more fun and enjoyment into the movie to help me see more of how people might actually like this movie. I still wouldn’t say that I loved the movie as it seems some people do with the Young Guns movies, but it was okay, and far superior to first movie. If you’re going to watch one, make it this one. Young Guns II gets “I’ll make you famous” out of “When troubles come, they come not single spies but in battalions.”
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