So some of the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN crew is getting back together, eh? Stranger things that happened, I suppose.
The story looks like it’s about Billy the Kid, who attempts to protect a young boy from his outlaw uncle, who is simultaneously trying to avoid capture by a local sheriff.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Jake Schur (acting debut; congrats, sir), Dane DeHaan (VALERIAN  and KNIGHT OF CUPS ), Ethan Hawke (BLAZE , MAUDIE , MAG/7, SINISTER , and upcoming films ADOPT A HIGHWAY  and THE TRUTH ), Chris Pratt (LEGO MOVIE  and 2 , AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR , GUARDIANS 2 , PASSENGERS , JURASSIC WORLD , and the upcoming ONWARD ), and Leila George (MORTAL ENGINES , and the upcoming THE LONG HOME ).
In support, we have Vincent D’Onofrio (DEATH WISH , CHIPS , MAG/7, JURASSIC WORLD, SINISTER, and DAREDEVIL [2015 – 2018]), Adam Baldwin (FIREFLY [2002 – 2003], video game INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US , and the upcoming THE LEGEND OF 5 MILE CAVE ), Ben Dickey (BLAZE), and Hawk D’Onofrio (2 episodes of FALLOUT: NUKA BREAK [2011 – 2013]).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Vincent D’Onofrio, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Penning the screenplay, we have Andrew Lanham, known for GLASS CASTLE (2017), and the upcoming JUST MERCY (2020). Co-composing the score are Gaines brothers Latham (debut; congrats, sir) and Shelby (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of). The cinematographer is Matthew J. Lloyd, known for THE SEAGULL (2018), POWER RANGERS (2017), and the upcoming SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (2019). Finally, the editor (according to Wikipedia) is Katharine Mcquerrey (Katie Mcquerrey on IMDb – same person? – not credited for editing this film), known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of.
Overall, this looks like it could be a lot of fun, if not a bit cluttered. It looks like it’s trying to be two separate movies. One’s about protecting this kid and the other is about hunting Billy the Kid, so this looks like it’s running the risk of being not very good. I’m hoping this is just a bad trailer for a good movie. We’ll see, I suppose.
This is my honest opinion of: THE KID
Set in the old west. Rio Cutler (Jake Schur) is a fourteen year old kid who witnesses his drunken father beat his mother to death. In a desperate attempt to stop it, he threatens his father with a gun, but instead kills him before he comes after him and his older sister Sara (Leila George). Enraged by the death of his brother, Grant Cutler attempts to avenge his death, but both Rio and Sara run away in search of a friend of their mother’s in Santa Fe. Resting one night, they encounter the young and charming outlaw, Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan), whom develops a connection with young Rio. However, matters are complicated when it turns out that Billy has been found by a local Sheriff named Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke) who wants to bring him in. Capturing him, they also agree to bring along the Cutler siblings to Santa Fe.
I have no idea if I just woke up way too early and was tired as fuck, but I think this movie was kinda boring. Even looking back on it now, it left very little impact. I’m not going to call it a bad movie, but I am calling it… forgettable.
Man, even pulling from blunt memory, I’m having a hard time remembering. Okay, so I know the movie opens on Rio accidentally killing his father, failing to save his mother. Uncle Grant comes in, beats Rio, Grant’s locked away as the siblings escape, and the Uncle sets out to look for them. Okay, now my memory is jogging. Predictability. Once the sister mentions that there’s an old friend of their mom’s, I called it from the get-go that Grant would know exactly where they were going. Big shocker, that’s exactly what happened. What makes this scene particularly annoying is that we don’t even know how or why this friend sold out these kids. I mean, sure, we can imagine that Grant threatened her, or paid her, but it’s left too ambiguous. A few bruises or scars would indicate a threat, and make us understand why she would sell them out, as a means of self-preservation. Wouldn’t make her any more likable, but would offer an explanation of some kind. Or, hell, a big ole sack of money would indicate bribery. It would make her despicable, putting a price tag on a pair of kids that she should have a vested interest in protecting, since her friend built her up to be some kind of save haven from trouble, a la Grant. It really wouldn’t matter what route this movie took, but any explanation would have been acceptable. However, none is offered, so my reaction is more vexed from the writing than the actions of the character.
Oh, now my memory’s really coming back. I really didn’t like the relationship between Rio and Billy. I know what the intention was. Billy is supposed to be this suave, exciting character who gets all the ladies, and lives an adventurous life. This is likely supposed to invigorate Rio, hence why he has such an attachment to him. However, here’s the problem: nothing in Rio’s character lines up with this theory. As a result, he just looks like a dumb kid. Up to this point, we only know that he was a scared teenager who failed to save his mother and killed his dad. That’s all well and good, but one would think that those events would weigh heavily on his mind. In certain scenes it does, when he’s talking to Pat. Those are where his emotions regarding the opening scenes start to affect him. But nothing about his character suggests that he years for an exciting life, idolizing outlaws, or anything of that nature. He just sporadically starts looking up to Billy like a he’s a misunderstood hero and the law is just a bunch of uptight assholes who can’t handle a little mischief.
If I were to change anything, I would say that the movie should have taken its time fleshing out Rio’s character. Open on him with his sister in town, shopping or something, and he hears a harrowing tale of Billy doing something that romanticizes him and Rio’s getting awe-struck with what he’s hearing. Take him home, posing with his dad’s revolver and wearing his dad’s hat, imagining himself an outlaw. Then open the movie with the drunken dad beating the mom. With all that, we establish a better reason why Rio has the gun, rather than it just fell and he picked it up, and we establish later on why he’s so taken with Billy, so it’s not so random, and all within a span of maybe five minutes or less.
To make matters even more vexing with Rio’s character, he doesn’t even feel like an actual teenager. I mean, he knows that Billy the Kid is an outlaw and has killed people, to which Billy doesn’t deny this, but is somehow appalled by the notion that he’s going to be hanged. Um… what did he think was going to happen? You break the law, commit a crime, people get punished. Basic principles of society. Besides, Rio doesn’t know who Billy killed. The victim could have been a family man with children that he loved who will now grow up without their father. And Rio is idolizing the man that did that. Are we sure this kid is fourteen years old? Because he sounds like he’s four years old. Actually, the more I think about it, the more it would have made more sense to make Rio much younger. As a teenager, you’re a bit more worldly and know to ask more questions now that your brain is more developed. But as a kid, that’s not always the case. Maybe some things add up, like using a gun to threaten your violent father to get away from your mother, but the concept of laws and law-enforcement may be a bit of a harder pill to swallow. Outlaws are made out to be ugly monsters who would be just as likely to eat you and rob you. Take an impressionable kid and have him meet an outlaw who… just looks like a man, not a monster, who is funny and charismatic, suddenly perspective changes and you might not believe the “tall tales,” so to speak. I suppose you could argue that Rio is really sheltered, hence his younger mind-set. But again, we know so little of Rio himself that this explanation doesn’t hold much water.
Even the villain, Grant Cutler, doesn’t even feel very special. Chris Pratt was hyping up his movie like his character was pure evil. Well, sure he is. He has lines, like, “I told my brother that nothing good would come out of being with that whore (referring to the mom),” and clearly doesn’t see his niece and nephew like family. He wants to kill Rio for the death of his brother, among other things, so clearly, he’s a dick-weed. But here’s the problem. Being a monster doesn’t automatically mean “three-dimensional character.” You could replace Grant with a vengeful dog and the impact would be the same. Take the Joker from the Batman franchise. He’s a monster with zero redeeming qualities. His soul is as black as it gets and he relishes it. But even he has a personality. His motivations are never surface level, always some underlying back-up plan to keep Batman on his toes. Grant is not that. He’s way too simple. I’m not saying give him humanity, that’s clearly not the purpose of the character, but some extra dimensions would have gone a long way. Dedicate more than three scenes to him and really dive into how depraved, how monstrous he really is, rather than some shock-value dialog. <<<SPOILERS>>> [ “She’s (Sara) gonna be my personal whore!” This was a step in the right direction, an uncle who doesn’t love his niece enough to rape her, that’s not a bad place to go. Er, I mean, obviously it’s very horrible, but… you know what I mean. If you want your bad guy to be a monster, he has to do monstrous things. Raping his niece will do the trick. However, the next time we see him, he’s all like, “I never did nothin’ with her, but I had my buddy get first crack.” So… wait, what was the point of that earlier threat then? If he’s such a bastard, then he would have been first to do the deed. Suddenly he has something of a moral compass? Piss off! I mean, sure, passing her around like a cheap bottle of wine is pretty douchie, but a real douche bag would partake in drinking. As a villain is concerned, Grant could have been worse. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
There are a couple of saving graces though.
The acting is pretty top notch. For all the weaknesses of their characters, Schur, Pratt, George, and DeHaan all do a great job in their respective roles. Schur definitely has his vulnerable moments and sells his emotional breakdowns, DeHaan does a far better job being a charismatic rogue here than in VALERIAN, I can definitely see Pratt play a villain well if given better material, and George sells it as a sister who is just trying to protect her little brother, so the acting is never the problem. In fact, far and away the best performance comes out of Ethan Hawke as Pat Garrett. At first, he seems pretty one-dimensional too, just a ruthless lawman hellbent on taking Billy the Kid to be hanged. But as we spend more time with Pat, we learn that he does have a past. We do learn of the complicated history that he has with Billy, and we learn that he is a man with regrets. And for all the gruff and tough manliness that he radiates, he isn’t without a soft spot for Rio when he asks for help. Great performance. Nuanced and awesome, just like a real western.
And Adam Baldwin. Just… Adam Baldwin. Putting him in a movie, especially a western, instantly makes it more awesome. Now, all we need… is to put him in a space western… maybe in a rag-tag group of outlaws… and maybe he and his group are on the run from a totalitarian government because they’re harboring a mentally unstable telepathic teenage girl being protected by her smart doctor older brother. You know, just off the top of my head.
Overall, as far as westerns go, it’s not the worst, but it’s far from the most memorable. Because many of the characters are so thinly written, it’s hard to be completely invested in them, which is a shame because the actors are trying so hard to make them work. But even the best of them don’t completely save this from being a boring stroll through the old west. As a recommendation, I’d say save it for a rental. Westerns aren’t common, and this has slivers good, particularly from Hawke. The movie’s worth it for him alone. So take that for what you will.
My honest rating for THE KID: 3/5
This week’s reviews:
Next week’s reviews:
- THE AFTERMATH
- THE MUSTANG
- CAPTIVE STATE
- FIVE FEET APART
- WONDER PARK
- THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT
- NANCY DREW AND THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE
- NO MANCHES FRIDA 2: PARAÍSO DESTRUIDO
- PLAIRE, AIMER ET COURIR VITE / SORRY ANGEL
- FAITH, HOPE & LOVE