Emilio Estevez stars as a wet behind the ears Billy the Kid in this empty headed but entertaining Brat Pack western. He gets saved from a hanging by a generous rancher (Terence Stamp from Superman 2) who lets him work on his farm in exchange for food and shelter. Billy makes an uneasy friendship with the other twentysomething cattle hands (played by Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermont Mulroney, and Casey Siemaszko) and when an evil cattle baron (Jack Palance) murders Stamp and steals his cows, the boys saddle up and go out for revenge.
Director Christopher (The Principal) Cain directs the action in a pedestrian manner, but it’s the performances that make this flick worth watching. Estevez is quite good as the maniacal Billy and his performance (along with his cackling) is pretty memorable. It’s also fun to see him and his brother Sheen share the screen (they later would go on to make the immortal Men at Work together), even though Chuck gets gunned down about halfway through the flick. Brian Keith also puts in a fine turn as a crusty bounty hunter who buys the farm in an outhouse.
I could’ve done without the slow-mo “Spirit World” trip sequence, but it’s not bad for the most part. I mean brains get splattered out, knives get tossed into jugulars, and lots of people get gunned down for no good reason, so it’s pretty hard to hate. Eagle eyed viewers will also have fun spotting Tom Cruise as a cowboy during the final shootout.
I’ve always been a Young Guns 2 man myself, but this is a decent western for people who would prefer The Breakfast Club over The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.