The Kid [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (9th August 2019).
The Film

The old west was the stuff of legends and Hollywood has produced countless variations on the stories that have been handed down throughout the ages. One of the most renowned of these legends is the folklore that surrounds William H. Bonin aka Billy the Kid and his nemesis and former friend Sheriff Pat Garrett who tracks the outlaw down and slays him. Billy was an outlaw and folk hero that supposedly killed eight men before he was killed at age 21 by Garrett. Hollywood loved this story and throughout the years various actors have played both parts: Michael J. Pollard, Paul Newman, Kris Kristofferson, Emilio Estevez and now Dane DeHaan have portrayed the outlaw gunslinger. Garrett has been portrayed by an equal number of excellent actors over the years: Wallace Beery, James Coburn, Patrick Wayne, William Petersen and now Ethan Hawke have worn the tin badge. Depending upon the director and the source materials, the results have been varied, but the fact remains that this story of the two men’s uneasy relationship has been subject to various films and television shows over the years. Now actor turned director Vincent D’Onofrio has stepped up to the plate with his own version of this story but he has added a new wrinkle to the story by having a runaway youth Rio Cutler (Jake Schur) who killed his father, Bill (Tait Fletcher) after witnessing him beating his wife to death and he encounters both Billy the Kid and Sherriff Garrett while on the trail to Santa Fe with his sister Sara (Leila George). Rio’s uncle, Grant Cutler (Chris Pratt) has vowed vengeance on the duo and he is following close behind them, but Rio can’t decide who he should be enamored with: the easy bad boy swagger of The Kid or the law abiding way of Pat Garrett. The youth is troubled by his murderous actions and you can tell that he wants to confess his sins to the sheriff, but his sister has made him vow to keep silent. This Is the central lynchpin of the film, but there is more going on than a mere coming of age story; Vincent D’Onofrio is taking a familiar story and injecting new life into it with the addition of Rio and his sister.

The film opens with the violent confrontation that results in both of the children’s parents dead and they take to the open road in order to escape the clutches of their violent uncle Grant. Along the way while holed up in an abandoned shed, they are awoken by Billy the Kid who is completely charming and polite. After introductions are made and the villains bed down for some shut eye, Rio and Billy have a chance to compare stories and a common bond is found. It is clear that Rio is in awe of Billy and he has read about him in the papers. Rio asks Billy if he is guilty of all the things that the papers claim and he philosophically replies that we are all guilty of some crime or another. Basically Billy is granting some type of criminal dispensation to Rio because of Rio’s crime of patricide. Whether this is the screenwriter Andrew Lanham’s intention or not, Rio has had a set down with the man and he is psyched. Their discussion is interrupted by gunfire as one of Garrett’s men has fired upon one of Billy’s gang. Billy attempts to lasso a nearby horse and bring him nearer the shelter, but Garrett sees this and breaks an unwritten rule of the West and shoots the horse. Billy decides to surrender to Garrett and his men and tells Rio to wait inside the shed and then later find the other horses and make their escape. While Garrett is busy overseeing the apprehension of the outlaws, Rio and his sister make their presences known and they are taken aboard the wagon that is being used to haul Billy and his gang to New Mexico.

The mashup between authentic historical figures and characters expressly created by the screenwriter for this film is an intriguing one to ponder. Hollywood, as previously stated, loved the Billy the Kid mythos and there has been countless retellings of the tale, but this time around there are actually two kid’s: Rio and Billy; whose story is it? Without spoiling the film for anyone, it is clearly Rio’s story and Billy and Pat Garrett are along for the ride, but that doesn’t mean that the actors portraying those characters are merely phoning it in. On the contrary, both Dane DeHaan and Ethan Hawke give excellent performances, especially Hawke as he gives the sheriff a world weary countenance and it is evident that having been forced to pursue his old friend was troubling him. DeHaan, though older than the historical Kid, certainly gives a certain maniacal charm to his portrayal of the gunslinger. The biggest surprise is by Chris Pratt, exercising his villainous chops, as the revenge crazy Grant Cutler. Seeing Pratt in a new light and not invoking foolishness was a real treat and he brought an unforeseen depth to the role as the cold hearted relative that only can find one way to resolve a problem. Director Vincent D’Onofrio makes an assured directorial debut here and he has an interesting manner framing some of the shots; his daughter is also very good as the suffering sister to Rio, Sara. The cinematography by Matthew J. Lloyd was extremely uplifting and instead of showing us battling superheroes, he rises to the occasion to capture excellent western landscapes.

In conclusion the film brings to the screen a different chapter of the outlaw’s saga by including Rio’s story as well and that alone makes this film worth seeking out. Latham and Shelby Gaines score the film with a haunting soundtrack that is quietly self-assured and evocative. As a fan of the Western genre, I must admit that I enjoyed this film and its attempt to update the mythology of Billy the Kid.

Video

Presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films with an AVC MPEG-4 encoded HD 1080p 24/fps transfer in 2.40:1. Excellent camerawork captures the landscape as well as good use of close ups to covey the character’s emotions.

Audio

The audio is a lively English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix of both center channel and rear speakers. All dialogue is presented clearly and the soundtrack is a sneaky mix of eclectic instruments. Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

"The Making of The Kid" featurette (9:26), a standard behind-the-scenes interview piece that features cast and crew. This is the only extra on this disc.

There is also a code for a digital copy version of the film.

Packaging

Packaged in a standard Blu-ray case with a slip-cover in original pressing.

Overall

"The Kid" is an intriguing and violent western directed by Vincent D’Onofrio. Definitely entertaining and enjoyable! Check it out!

The Film: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: C- Overall: B+

 


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