The Movie Waffler New Release Review (DVD/VOD/Blu-Ray) - THE KID | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review (DVD/VOD/Blu-Ray) - THE KID

the kid review
A young boy seeks the aid of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid in rescuing his sister from his sadistic uncle.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Vincent D'Onofrio

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jake Schur, Leila George, Chris Pratt

the kid dvd


"All that matters is the story they tell when you're gone." So proclaims Ethan Hawke's Sheriff Pat Garrett in The Kid, Vincent D'Onofrio's second outing as a feature director following his little seen and poorly reviewed 2010 debut, Don't Go in the Woods. The story of Pat Garrett and his young frenemy Billy the Kid (played here by Dane DeHaan in what comes off as an impersonation of Leonardo DiCaprio's 'Kid' in The Quick and the Dead) has been told countless times in film, so the question must be asked regarding what D'Onofrio's film adds to an already crowded field.

Well, on paper at least, The Kid boasts an intriguingly original premise, with the lawman and the bandit posited as rival father figures for a troubled young boy. In a confusingly constructed opening sequence that exposes D'Onofrio's limits as a filmmaker, we see 14-year-old Rio Cutler (Jake Schur, son of the film's producer Jordan Schur, though I'm sure that had nothing to do with his casting here) witness the murder of his mother at the hands of his abusive father. Rio picks up a gun and blows away his Dad, which leads himself and his older sister Sara (Leila George, daughter of the film's director, though I'm sure that had nothing to do with her casting here) to flee the wrath of their psychotic uncle, Grant (Chris Pratt, surprisingly effective as an irredeemably malevolent villain).

the kid review

The siblings find themselves caught up in a confrontation between Garrett and Billy, which results in the latter taken prisoner and the former swallowing their fabricated story about having gotten separated from their father. Garrett agrees to shepherd Rio and Sara to their nonexistent destination as soon as he drops Billy off at the town where he faces hanging.

The initially compelling setup sees Garrett and Billy indulge in a game of cat and mouse for the role of surrogate father and moral instructor to young Rio. Billy sees much of himself in the kid, sharing how he also killed his father as a young boy. Rio is thrilled at the idea that he might grow up to become a famous bandit like Billy, and this idea horrifies Garrett, who attempts to steer the boy away from such a life.

the kid review

What could be a western coming-of-age story along the lines of something like Dick Richards' criminally under-appreciated The Culpepper Cattle Company sadly switches gears into a mediocre rescue narrative when Uncle Grant shows up and makes off with Sara, leaving both Rio and the audience in no doubt as to his incestuous intentions for the girl. Sara, who had been a mildly interesting if underdeveloped female lead, simply becomes a whimpering plot device from this point.

It's clear that D'Onofrio's heart is in the right place and that he's a fan of the western genre, insisting on shooting in New Mexico for authenticity rather than in tax friendly Canada, but he's out of his depth as a filmmaker here. His staging of the movie's brief action set-pieces is geographically confusing while the rest of the drama is shot in the bland manner of a TV movie. Despite the authentic locations, the film never really establishes a sense of place.

the kid review

There is one standout scene which sees Garrett tell Rio the story of how he killed his first man, and how the law let him away with it because his victim, "a drunken Irishman," was a faceless member of the underclass and considered dispensable. Hawke delivers his monologue with his distinctive, throaty drawl, and D'Onofrio has the good sense to let his actor take over the scene. Hawke is part of a vanishing breed of uniquely American actors, which makes him ideally suited to the western. Like Wayne, Eastwood and Costner before him, he presents a granite front that seems to shield an inner turmoil and complexity left to be expressed only by the drop of a shoulder, the lowering of a hat brim, a face turned away during a difficult confession. He's made a few westerns now (see also The Magnificent Seven and In a Valley of Violence); someday he'll make a great one.

The Kid is on DVD/blu-ray/VOD now.


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