Young Guns II

Decked out in cowboy gear and ready for action is the pistol-packing cast of Young Guns II, headed by Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Phillips. Together they look as if they might make a terrific fashion spread or a movie poster. What they can't make is a watchable movie. The first Young Guns, in 1988, was an endurance test for all but those who think ogling young actors in tight britches is a fascinating way to spend two hours. Though it seems impossible, the sequel is even more excruciating.

Estevez is still playing Billy the Kid. At the start he appears in old-age makeup, like Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man, to be interviewed by a reporter who is skeptical that the geezer is really the Kid. To prove it, Billy tells his story from the point where the first movie left off. In flashback, we see the young Billy reunited with the surviving members of his gang. (That means only Sutherland and Phillips, since Charlie Sheen, Casey Siemaszko and Dermot Mulroney didn't get out of the first film alive.) Christian Slater (Heathers) shows up as a smartass who thinks he's just as tough as Billy. And if you look fast, you'll spot Jon Bon Jovi in a cameo role. The boys shoot, ride, pose for endless close-ups and speak and behave in the anachronistic manner of modern teens. The main focus of the film is the pursuit of the gang by the forces of law and order, led by Pat Garrett, listlessly played by William L. Petersen.

Working from a formulaic script by John Fusco, New Zealander Geoff Murphy (Red King, White Knight) makes an inauspicious American directing debut. The action and the acting are so listless that the only honest reaction to what transpires onscreen is a healthy snore.

From The Archives Issue 171: October 10, 1974
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