Billy the Kid and his gang are hunted down by
their former comrade turned sheriff Pat Garrett.
Young Guns II (1990)
Directed by Geoff Murphy
Written by John Fusco
Starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christian Slater, William Petersen, Alan Ruck, Viggo Mortensen, James Coburn, Scott Wilson, Leon Rippy, Tracey Walter
Sequel to 1988's Young Guns
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Song (Blaze of Glory)
The story of Billy the Kid is one of the most fascinating pieces of American history. It's a story ripe for Hollywood reimaginings, and I don't think it's ever been done as exciting as it was done in the Young Guns series. The first film was the origin of Billy the Kid and this second film is the story of his downfall at the hands of his friend turned enemy Pat Garrett. We get Estevez, Sutherland, and LDP all returning to their respective roles, and newcomers Christian Slater, Alan Ruck, William Petersen, and Viggo Mortensen. That lineup alone sounds exciting enough to put asses in seats in 1990, and it still holds up today.
Estevez again shines as Billy the Kid, outlaw with a firm belief in anarchy. This time, Billy is betrayed by the governor of New Mexico and arrested for murder, only to escape and attempt to flee to Mexico. Tired of Billy's escapes, the governor and cattle baron John Chisum (Coburn) pardon Billy's compatriot Pat Garrett (Petersen) to hunt down and kill his old friend. Along for the ride is Doc Scurlock (Sutherland), who was retired and living as a teacher in New York, but was dragged back to be hanged with the rest of 'em. The film is exciting enough, sure, but the script is fairly uneven. We don't get enough time to really get to know the new guys before they're thrust into action that the audience's heart isn't really in. I think they were relying too much on leftover excitement from the first film. There's not a lot of new directions to go in when you turn real events into a franchise, but they did the best they could.
Young Guns II isn't as good as the first film, but it's a fun watch nonetheless. The cast all perform admirably and the action sequences are well-choreographed and exciting. I just wish they'd put a little more effort into character development and not just trying to replicate the first one. Still, I'd watch it again.