The Kid





Just looking at Vincent D'onofrio one would think he was plucked out of the wild wild west. He's a burly man, a bit eccentric, and knows the right amount of energy to bring to a role. It's only fitting that his directorial debut would be a western about Billie “The Kid”, starring Dane DeHaan as a yellow teethed, renegade cowboy, and Ethan Hawke in the role as sheriff Pat Garrett, desperately on the hunt to get the wanted criminal. The title has a double meaning, The Kid is also a young man named Rio (Jake Schur), who kills his father in defense of his mother, loses both parents in the process, runs away from his disgusting uncle Grant (Chris Pratt), and along with his sister ends up on the road with Billie "The Kid". This is a bit of a standard western. A young man, thrown into the fire, caught between the law and the legend, and growing up fast in the process. The Kid is conventional, but an enjoyable western at least.  

In spirit and in script, D'Onofrio and writer Andrew Lanham succeed at creating the western world. Men are violent, women are mistreated, children are just hoping to live another day, the towns are desolate, and to kill a man is justified with reason. Similar to last years quietly awesome The Sisters Brothers, this is a tale of survival, for Billie to keep his reputation alive, for Rio to prove that he's not afraid, and for Garrett to exercise his demons. Were The Kid not juggling various plot points and lacking in a central focus, I would be singing its praises. Instead its just, good. Easy to recommend, but easy to forget.

One of the more hilarious parts of The Kid is that all three stars, D'Onofrio, Hawke, and Pratt all had roles as members of The Magnificent Seven remake. This means they all had so much fun on that film, they needed to do it again, or they had spare time while on set. Either way, the three actors certainly have the look. Hawke, following up his phenomenal work in Paul Schrader's Oscar nominated First Reformed, is the most prepared and the loudest. And I say this with a straight face, Chris Pratt's performance in The Kid is his best work yet. His character is gross, with a beard that looks like it hasn't been washed in years, and hungry avenge his brothers death. Trust me, it's a million times better than the plain, dry toast performances he has delivered in the Jurassic World films.

The ending of The Kid is where it loses its full three start status. Were D'Onofrio to stick the landing I might have thought different, but the ending feels so jumbled, anti-climactic after build up to tense shootout, that it left a dirty taste in my mouth. That's not to say that the director doesn’t have great potential. The Kid is an extremely violent film, something not enough westerns get right, has a strong and able cast that wear a cowboy hat well, showing promise that D'Onofrio could very well be an auteur of his own. Maybe he could revive the westerns of Clint Eastwood's early years and maybe I will appreciate The Kid more with time, but for now it's not glowing praise, just enough to be excited for what D'Onofrio will do next.


Written by: Leo Brady