From my experience, audiences usually like when a movie shifts into high gear right off the hop; especially if it’s an action movie. The Kid does just that. Using a pair of young fugitives as a vessel for the audience, the film essentially starts in the middle of a power struggle between Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke) and Billy ‘The Kid’ Bonney (Dane DeHaan).
The young sibling runaways, Rio and Sara (Jake Schur and Leila George), are hiding from mean ol’ Grant Cutler (Chris Pratt). Grant is avenging the death of his brother, a brute who was shot by Rio after the man had savagely beat and killed the siblings’ mother. Due to some coincidental timing, Rio and Sara are taken in by Billy, who is shortly arrested by Sheriff Pat.
While it may appear to have the audience in mind, The Kid is actually catered more to its cast (but not as exclusively as The Poison Rose was). Director Vincent D’Onofrio, known for his versatile work as an actor, focuses his efforts towards character work with his performers while staying faithful to the western genre. This decision pays off decently and certainly benefits the ensemble of exceptional performances but, considering we’re entering this story while it’s unfolding, there are boundaries on how much D’Onofrio can actually develop the movie. But since D’Onofrio created this story with screenwriter Andrew Lanham (The Shack, The Glass Castle), this handicap is partly his own fault. While the set-up is problematic, Lanham (a past winner of The Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting) is still able to squeeze in some good, hard-boiled dialogue.
The Kid averages out to be a solid flick, and a surefire recommendation for those itching to revisit this fading genre.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie