This sequel features many members of the brat pack - Emilio Estevez, Keifer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christian Slater, etc. It's the continuing saga of Billy the Kid and his gang, now on the run to Mexico. Several of the gang members had tried to move on and have normal lives, but unfortunately life and law interfered, drawing them back together again.
Billy is up to his usual self-promoting tricks - acting the crazy one, out for as much attention as he can get, even if it means the death of his friends. It's not that he's cruel, exactly - he's just immature and does things without thinking about them. He lies to them, telling them they're heading for Mexico - but finally he admits that he'd be bored to tears there so instead he's planning on riding around the southeastern US causing trouble and having fun. His antics end up getting pretty much his entire gang killed.
Chasing after the boys are Pat Garrett (William Peterson) with Viggo Mortensen helping out. In contrast with Billy's continual wild antics, these two men are the calm, steady force of the law. They track down the boys, moving slowly but continually to bring peace to the land.
This is never really set out to be a "historic, accurate thought-provoking western". It's meant to be a fun romp with fun actors and fun Bon Jovi rock music. So you have to overlook at lot of the sterotyping. Phillips has to go through a lot of Indian sayings and poses. He's the one who speaks out when they are riding through an Apache burial ground, which is probably the only "Native American" moment in a movie set in Indian Territory. I suppose he does say a Navaho word later on to his horse - but it's only as the setup for a plot joke.
Slater is the sterotypical racist - completely uncaring about killing off Mexicans and Indians as they don't count. Of course there were many racists back in those days (and I suppose there still are) but the character's dialogue and slight growth are very predictable. I've always been very fond of Keifer's acting and characters, and appreciate very much the "man who longs for peace but who sticks by his friends" - but again it's another stereotype. None of the actors were really allowed to stretch their wings or show depth in their characters.
The landscapes are of course stunning - but locations often seem very Hollywoody. It doesn't seem wild west as much as an idealized version of "how fun things used to be". The story of Billy the Kid is of course a fascinating one, as are the stories of law-vs-freedom and native-americans-deserving-respect. There could have been an amazing amount of meaning in this movie given the actors who populated it. It just never got there.
It's a movie I enjoy greatly as fun - but I think it'd be cool if these same actors came back now to re-do it in a gritty, realistic style. I think we'd be blown away by the difference.
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