4 July 1999 | Tin Man-5
The Kid going down in a blaze of glory....
There have been only a handful of films to try to put the immortal story of Billy the Kid onto film. Among them was Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid with Val Kilmer and Young Guns I.
This is the sequel, of course, to the latter film, and it just might be the finest Billy the Kid film out there. True, some of the dialogue is shoddy ("I guess you don't know the true meaning of the word PALS!"), but that's not the point. The point is, this is the only film of all of them to really capture the spirit of Billy the Kid. There has always been a thin line in between characters such as the Kid, between legend and fact. Of course, this film reflects mostly on the legends, and it takes the attitude that in the midst of all the legend and stories that were told about Billy and his gang of cohorts, there was a very real, very human leader who allowed all the legends about him to get to his head. As a result, he must suffer the consequences.
The cast is at the top of its game, especially Esteves as the Kid, Sutherland as Doc and Diamond Phillips as Chavez. Slater and Ruck also lend their support as Arkansas Dave and Buckshot George, respectively. This motley group make up the "Young Guns," and their quest to get to the Mexican border and escape from former gang member Pat Garret. The film follows the standard Billy the Kid story, with only slight moderations, but this is the only film in which the spirit of Billy the Kid is alive and you truly feel like this character is what he thinks he is: some kind of god. This was exactly what the story needed, and it works for the same reason films like "Braveheart" worked: they don't try to do an accurate, historical retelling, but rather, they pay tribute to the legends centered around the character.
The soundtrack is also nice. Even if one hated this film, they have to admit that the Oscar-nominated song "Blaze of Glory" by Bon Jovi is a winner, and it captures the spirit of the whole film and the message that it was trying to make: that legends are forever.
Without a doubt, this is the best Billy the Kid film, and therefore it is one of the western genre's greatest achievement.
"Yoo hoo....I'll make you famous."