Young Guns

"Bad"

Young Guns Review


Remember the Alamo, and remember the '80s. Young Guns supposedly takes place in the old west, but it actually takes place in front of the cameras. If you use your imagination, behind the impeccably coiffed brat pack (Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Philips, Charlie Sheen), you can almost see their hairdressers, lint removers, personal assistants, entourages, and playmates. Young Guns doesn't have a good reason to exist besides an excuse for these hot young Turks to look good onscreen, pop off their guns, then mosey off the set and indulge in stardom. It might seem unfair to judge the movie this way, but damn if that isn't the way it feels -- an excuse for preening.

Fifteen years later (as the film is reissued on an indulgent Special Edition DVD set, complete with commentary track from three of the less-busy stars), everything in Young Guns feels wrong. The cheap sawdust sets, the dust-free costumes (except for tobacco chompin' Dermot Mulroney, who is "Pigpen" to the rest of the Peanuts Gang cast), the barely awake performances by Yoda-like mentor Terence Stamp and bad guy Jack Palance, and the flat-out arrogance of some of the cast members. At the time, they may have been the masters of the universe -- emblematic success stories of the Reagan era. Now, Emilio Estevez's Billy the Kid is a cute nihilist, a maniac winking at the camera to let us know deep down, he's really svelte Emilio.

Individual talents have stood out over the years. Kiefer Sutherland has done it all, from character acting to currently bringing hangdog intensity to 24, but Young Guns doesn't do him much justice. He's not really given a character to play, but a type. "Doc" Skurlock is the nice guy to Estevez's crazy guy, and Lou Diamond Phillips is the dime store Indian (complete with fortune cookie wisdom), and Casey Siemaszko... well, Casey wasn't as good looking as the other boys, so he might as well be hanging a noose around his neck the whole time, or a sign reading "EXPENDABLE."

But the plot: New Mexico in 1878 circa 1988, Billy the Kid forms his gang of bank robbers and gunmen after their father figure (Stamp) is blown away by a sadistic rancher (Palance). The rest of the movie follows our boys' trip across the desert, stopping for romance and bloodletting along the way, until they can finally empty some hot lead into the bad guy. And somehow, they get misconstrued as heroes along the way. Underneath the killing machines are good wholesome boys. Kind of like Rambo... and kind of like Oliver North, come to think of it.

God, what is it about the '80s? The cheap score in movies like Young Guns is so lousy, it's embarrassing to think we tolerated that crap when I was in high school. And you don't have to be a John Ford purist to admit that the movie doesn't follow the rhythms, pacing, textures, and American spirit of the westerns (or even the "kill 'em all" moment-to-moment bloodletting of Sam Peckinpah). Young Guns is really Brat Pack Goes West, which means it's about a fad. And that fad is over, and now we look back on it and say, "What the hell were they (we) thinking?" I can only presume the commercial pop rock of Britney Spears/Mandy Moore/Justin Timberlake (all involved in movie deals) will go down the same sour, embarrassing path.

As for whether there's any doubt left that we don't want it, we don't need it, and we're sick of the thought of western stories stupefied down for our generation, I give you the box office disaster American Outlaws. There are side pleasures to be found, though, in going back and reliving the bad parts of the '80s. A rental of Young Guns lets us know that at least we're out of Reaganomics and the movies it spawned (now we're suffering through The Burning Bush, American Idol, Joe Millionaire, and lots of sequels). But a note to kitsch fans: Jon Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" doesn't figure into the original Young Guns... that was reserved for Young Guns II.



Young Guns

Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th August 1988

Box Office Worldwide: $44.7M

Budget: $13M

Distributed by: Artisan Entertainment

Production compaines: 20th Century Fox, Morgan Creek Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 15

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Starring: as William H. 'Billy the Kid' Bonney, as Josiah Gordon 'Doc' Scurlock, as Jose Chavez y Chavez, as Dick Brewer, as Dirty Steve Stephens, as Charles 'Charley' Bowdre, as John Tunstall, as Lawrence G. Murphy, as Alex McSween, Sharon Cain Thomas as Susan McSween, as J. McCloskey, Alice Carter as Yen Sun, as Buckshot Roberts, as Patrick Floyd 'Pat' Garrett

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Advertisement
Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Demolition Movie Review

Demolition Movie Review

With its darkly emotive themes and brittle humour, this well-made drama by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas...

Bastille Day Movie Review

Bastille Day Movie Review

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.