Directed by Christopher Cain
Written by John Fusco
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Jack Palance, Terence Stamp, Casey Siemaszko
When their mentor and friend, John Tunstall is gunned down. A group of young misfits decides to take action against the ruthless businessman (Palance) behind the killing. Led by Billy the Kid (Estevez), the group of young men (Sutherland, Phillips, Sheen, Mulroney, Siemaszko), calling themselves The Regulators, are armed with deputies badges and guns. As they begin to hunt down the men responsible for the murder of Tunstall, Billy begins to push beyond his authority, making them outlaws. Now they’re forced to run from the law, while trying to finish exacting their revenge.
This 1988 film is an interesting Hollywood look at the real-life exploits of Billy the Kid. The movie was written by John Fusco (Hidalgo), and directed by Christopher Cain (The Principal). The cast, especially in 1988, featured a number of big names and rising stars. This includes Emilio Estevez (The Outsiders), Kiefer Sutherland (At Close Range), Lou Diamond Phillips (Courage Under Fire), and Charlie Sheen (Platoon). The cast also features Dermot Mulroney (Jobs), Jack Palance (Shane), Terence Stamp (The Adjustment Bureau), and Casey Siemaszko (Back to the Future).
The story for this film is a mix of Hollywood art, American folk story, and historical facts. John Fusco did a good job of keeping as much fact as he could in the baseline of the story. The film features good dialogue, playing up the reputation of Billy the Kid and the others involved. The story also paces itself nicely, allowing the action to be spread out nicely throughout the movie. The story does have some weakness to it, mainly in the development of the supporting characters. It seems like the film doesn’t acknowledge these characters enough to make them interesting. In the end, the movie feels like a small cast in a very small world. The story also includes a strange drug-induced interlude that serves little purpose other than to stall the progress of the story. Altogether, this is a good story despite the weaknesses.
The acting in this movie works well with the story. Emilio Estevez was a great choice to play the flamboyant and violent Billy the Kid. The rest of the cast that make up The Regulators all do nice work as well. Sutherland, Phillips, Sheen, Mulroney, and Siemaszko all have good chemistry with one another throughout the movie. Jack Palance was a great choice for this movie. He’s had a long career playing both sides of the law in a number of classic Westerns. This movie is another great example of his acting skills. Overall, the movie features a number of good performances. Unfortunately, the lack of quality supporting actors hurts the overall performance of the film.
This movie does most of the right things when it comes to the technical aspects. Mainly, the movie tries to keep things simple and straightforward. One of the better elements of the movie are the action sequences. There’s plenty of action in this one, and it all works nicely. The sets and locations used are also really good aspects of the movie. The score also works nicely with the style of the movie, although it does date itself a bit. Otherwise, a good movie from the technical aspects.
This is a good movie, but not a great movie. Despite critical failings, this was a box office success and a popular film amongst audiences. If you’re a fan of Westerns, this is one worth checking out. I would also recommend it to fans of the stars of this one. This is not a family Western, with a lot of violence that isn’t for the kids. I give this one 3.3 out of 5 stars.