Film-Related & Film Reviews 1985-1994

Young Guns II (1990) DVD Movie Review

Source: Movie Cynics

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As much as I liked Young Guns, the sequel took a little bit of getting used to. With the passing of time, the film has aged well and exists as one of the better sequels of the '90s. The film's plot is a little disjointed and doesn't flow well, but there is just something about watching a criminal get hunted down by the law... especially when that lawman is an old friend. While the movie is still a pop light western, it does feel a little more like a western than the original film... that and it features the bangin' cut Blaze of Glory by Jon Bon Jovi. Who can forget the video with Jon Bon sitting on top of a plateau, singing soulfully and hugging his guitar like a dead pet while clips from the movie played in the background? I know I can't.

This film continues the saga of Billy the Kid, this time focusing the camera a little more strongly on the character. The film picks up some time after the action of the first film, as participants in the Lincoln County War are being picked up across the country. After promises at a pardon fall through, Billy breaks his friends out of jail and begins a trek to Old Mexico in the company of Doc Scurlock, Jose Chavez, and Arkansas Dave Rudibaugh. An old friend, Sheriff Pat Garrett, is put on his trail.

Geoff Murphy's film is technically more solid than the original film. There are many unforgettable scenes, and Murphy seems to take more than a passing interest in capturing the brutality of getting gunned down in the Old West. Thanks to Murphy, the film is visually pleasing and has a nice look to it that will keep the viewer interested, even though the plot does get bogged down at times with needless exposition and development of characters that are basically dead ends.

The acting in this film is far better than the original movie... mostly thanks to the fact that Charlie Sheen isn't in this one. Emilio Estevez plays the worst old man in the history of prosthetics, but he's still alright as Billy the Kid. Christian Slater rocks as Arkansas Dave Rudibaugh, a ruthless killer who likes to think that he runs things and is obsessed with people recognizing him. You've even got appearances from an unknown Viggo Mortensen and Balthazar Getty. Lou Diamond Phillips is remarkably toned down as Chavez and Kiefer Sutherland isn't as much of a poof this time around.

Young Guns II isn't as enjoyable as the first film, mostly because the film focuses so much on Billy the Kid and less on the bond that held him and his friends together. As you're watching the film, you begin to wonder why his friends even stick around him as all he does is get them killed. The revenge element from the first film made it way more interesting than the "run away" element of the sequel. It's still a solid flick, but unless you have a copy of Jon Bon's Blaze of Glory, it won't resonate nearly as much.

Final Synopsis: Young Guns II is a solid sequel that doesn't do much to improve upon the original. It looks better, but the camaraderie between the characters is gone, replaced by a sardonic sniveling that is unbecoming. It's still worth a watch.

Points Lost: -1 for not turning the whole film into a 90 minute Blaze of Glory video, -1 for Emilio Estevez' horrible narration and old man voice, -1 for losing the chemistry of the first film, -1 for a plot that sort of spins its wheels, -1 for focusing too much on Billy the Kid

Bonus Points: +1 for Viggo Mortensen telling a fifteen-year-old boy to "Take his medicine" as he lays there dying. It's one of the coldest moments in movie history.

Lesson Learned: Don't hang out with crazy outlaws... they'll just get you killed.

Burning Question: Do you think Brushy Bill Roberts was Billy the Kid?

Rating: 6 out of 10
Last edited: 17 August 2010 10:22:53