No not the Wham song, that I strangely sing in my head every time I see the title, even though I’m (probably) not (mostly) gay at all (mostly).
The reputation of this film has not fared well over 20+ years in the same way that other alleged “classics” like Ghostbusters and Fatal Attraction have, but this was way cool if you were 14 or so when it came out.
And I was.
But the fact is that rewatching it again some 20 years later I find that despite a few flaws it actually ain’t that bad. If anything it is a little better than not bad, it’s pretty good.
Now I only rented Young guns because my Mum and Dad were staying with me for a couple nights and my Dad was never going to watch The Prophecy or Tremors. That and my Dad loves Westerns and I couldn’t be bothered sitting through a John Wayne marathon.
My Dad’s verdict? He didn’t mind it , which is almost glowing praise.
The cast of Young Guns is almost a who’s-who of the 80’s young, cool guy platoon, and it is amazing how many of them enjoyed much longer careers, in the case of some they are still riding high. Check this:
Keifer (24) Sutherland… Almost the biggest TV star on the planet.
Emilio (Mighty Ducks) Estevez… OK Maybe he ain’t been so hot lately, but he was big for a while.
Charlie (2 and a Half Men) Sheen… The show sucks but you can’t argue it isn’t popular.
Dermot (Zodiac and a bunch of other reasonable stuff) Mulroney… Nothing huge but he’s still getting work.
Lou (bit part in TV shows) Diamond (shonky B movie) Phillips… Probably the poster boy for 90’s low budget B movies, a niche is a niche. (Hell I rented most of ’em.)
Casey (the other guy) Szkmazqqio…IMDB says he is still acting! Who knew?
So that’s four guys who were so hot right then, plus Terence Stamp as the old good guy, and Jack Palance with the ham turned to 11 as the old bad guy, a pretty schmoove cast for an 80’s popcorn movie.
Apparently loosely based on real events in Billy the Kid’s life, Young Guns finds Bill being chased by some guys and taken in by kindly old Terence Stamp, a local grazier who takes troubled young boys under his wing, like an olden days Michael Jackson (yes he’s dead but he was still a paedophile, so no regrets here). His troupe of self proclaimed “Regulators” include all of the above mentioned lads, all of which have different strengths and specialties, none of which are really expanded on in any more than a perfunctory “see we told you he could box” scene.
Jack Palance appears as Murphy, the bad guy with his gang. Enough said, you know what he says and what he stands for already. So Palance’s boys kill Stampy, and the boys are pissed and want revenge, so of course the logical thing to do is deputise these guys?
Well that’s what happens here. Of course when you have a bunch of empowered teenagers with weapons and badges things might go astray, and in this case Bill lets his creative juices flow and he ends up killin’ a bunch of mean hombres instead of arresting them.
The media, desperate for a story paints Bill as the leader of the gang with almost mythical qualities. Of course this leads to a bounty being put on their young, neatly coiffed heads which attracts all sorts of bounty hunters and lawmen. There are a couple of pretty well paced scenes involving shootouts and chases, with strategically placed bullets leaving strategically placed wounds that don’t get in the way of the gent’s handsomeness.
The remainder of the film involves the escapades of the gang as they initially attempt to escape to Mexico, before ultimately deciding to head back to face their destiny in order to provide the film with a major climactic shootout.
What I particularly enjoyed is the fact that good old Western conventions never go out of style, bad guys are shot with a pistol or rifle and they fall down dead, however the good guys get shot and lurch around for a dramatic slo-mo over the next 15 seconds. Even worse is that in the final scene the bad guys drag out a gatling gun, and again when the good guy gets shot they should go down, but no, they wait so that they might recoil for just long enough before the next shot hits them, and so on and so forth until the gatling gun runs out of ammo.
This is a paint by numbers Western there is no question, but it is effectively done with a few nice scenes and some memorable lines. The only drawback that I recall being distracted by is the shonky 80’s music that accompanies the early going, aside from that cheese I liked it.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Not a world beater but a pretty good movie, and you don’t have to be 14 to enjoy it.