The Kid Blu-ray Review
"A man's wrongs matter. But there's nothing as important as what he does next."
The Kid Film Review
Vincent D'Onofrio's sophomore directorial effort is a well-meaning sideways view of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid with a game cast but not quite enough new to say.Anyone familiar with either the brat pack 80s action-western Young Guns and its sequel, or Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, or indeed Paul Newman's underrated The Left Handed Gun, will likely know the story of Billy the Kid. Whilst that does not mean that it is not fair game for a decent new adaptation, it likely means that those familiar with the subject will at least want something new, whether in terms of style or rich characterisation.
Actor Vincent D'Onofrio has been largely underacknowledged in Hollywood despite memorable performances in films like Full Metal Jacket, finally getting acclaim for his TV work not only in Law & Order: Criminal Intent but, more recently, as the definitive Kingpin in Netflix's three seasons of Marvel's Daredevil. He's tried his hand at directing before, but few noticed, and he returns here to offer that different take on Billy the Kid and his relationship with once-friend turned arch-enemy Sheriff Pat Garrett, reframing the later events many will know from Young Guns II through the eyes of a couple of teen siblings whose lives cross with the sheriff and the outlaw.
Those familiar with the subject will at least want something new
Rio and Sara are siblings who go on the run after their violent father goes one step too far with their mother, and they take bloody steps to try and stop him, incurring the wrath of their gang leader uncle. Rio crosses paths with another young outlaw - Billy the Kid - and gets swept up in the chaos that ensues as Sheriff Pat Garrett tries to bring him down to justice.
Ethan Hawke is the standout in the cast, making for an interesting Garrett, whilst DeHaan does what he can with a thinly-painted Billy; the two doing the legwork on the acting front. They're interesting enough to have been the focus of the piece, but often appear little more than extended cameos in their own movie, with Chris Pratt - allegedly drawn to the production so that he could play a villain - actually having the runtime of an extended cameo, bookending the piece with snarling despicability at the beginning and end, but sorely missed as an antagonist in the meat of the piece.
D'Onofrio's attempt to colour in the last few days of Billy's notorious life through the eyes of a young man (presumably fictional) who encounters him is slight at best. Sure, it suitably de-romanticises the events - it's a stark contrast to Young Guns (II) - but, that said, this is hardly the first time anybody has attempted a more sobering look at the violent period. Unfortunately, with realism comes stagnancy, at least when it comes to this particular tale, and the 100 minute affair feels remarkably drawn out, barely coming alive in its last few minutes before going out on a whimper. Deadwood, it is not, attempting deeper character design but only occasionally hitting anything vaguely remarkable in a tale that ultimately didn't really need retelling - and certainly not like this.
The Kid Blu-ray PictureThe Kid comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate, who deliver it with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation that serves up some occasionally quite impressive cinematography. It was never destined to be the latest reference title, but the modern production's presentation serves to provide contemporary clarity coupled with classic Western style.
Contemporary clarity coupled with classic western style
Detail remains strong throughout, picking up on finer textures and nuances, and making the most of close-ups as well as a broader, more cinematic, shots, and maintaining stability even in the darker candlelit sequences. The colour scheme is classically skewed towards muddy, dirty and wood-dominant browns, with clothing similarly either brown, grey or black, but there are also some brighter tones, not least from the vistas and shots of the sky, and black levels remain strong and deep throughout, underpinning the whole affair. It's a very good, hard to fault video presentation.
The Kid Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also does strong work with the material, delivering up the core components with aplomb, rendering the dialogue with priority, the effects with suitable thunder and a decent score to offer a backdrop to the proceedings.
Overall, hardly a demo track, it's a decent aural rendition nonetheless
Dialogue remains prioritised throughout, coming through clearly and coherently, whether in whispers or yells, whilst effects are disseminated across the array, lending some LFE weight to the thunderous shotgun blasts, and the booming revolver rounds; punchy explosions that do palpable damage. The score is suitably Western in tone, but also quite quaint and melancholic, knowing its place in setting the tone of the proceedings. Overall, hardly a demo track, it's a decent aural rendition nonetheless.
The Kid Blu-ray ExtrasThere's nothing but a Featurette on offer here
The Kid Blu-ray VerdictDeadwood, it is not, attempting deeper character design but only occasionally hitting anything vaguely remarkable in a tale that ultimately didn't really need retelling - and certainly not like this
Vincent D'Onofrio's The Kid is a well-meaning endeavour, bolstered by some nice performances from the leads, but it's hardly exceptional, struggling to find energy in the overly familiar subject matter, and only really stepping out of the shadow of the rote tale of Pat Garrett's hunt for Billy the Kid in the final few minutes, when that should have arguably been the focus throughout.
Lionsgate's Region B Blu-ray release affords the piece very good video and audio, and isn't quite bare bones, making for a solid purchase for fans to pick up.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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