“It doesn’t matter what’s true. It matters the story they tell when you’re gone,” Pat Garrett, the lawman famous for shooting Billy the Kid, says at one point in “The Kid,” a new western currently playing in theaters.
Garrett (played by Ethan Hawke, pictured above left) says that line as he’s talking to an out-of-control uncle (played brilliantly by Chris Pratt, above right), who is holding his nephew hostage.
Up until now, the most well-known telling of Billy the Kid’s reckless ways in the Old West is likely 1988’s “Young Guns,” one of the signature films to feature multiple Brat Pack actors (Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, etc.). “Young Guns” never really stuck to historical accuracy. Instead, it was a chance to let some of the most in-demand actors at the time team up and play dress up. Full of winks, anachronisms and ’80s flash, it essentially sanitized the Old West and made it more accessible for people who thought even John Wayne westerns went too far.
As undeniable as its merits are, it was always a bit of a disappointment that the signature film about Billy the Kid was a Brat Pack movie. The outlaw’s tale is far more interesting than Emilio Estevez’s smirking and quipping could ever suggest.
Now we have a new and noteworthy telling of Billy the Kid’s story on film, courtesy of director Vincent D’Onofrio, who is primarily known for his acting in TV shows like “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and movies like “Jurassic World.”
D’Onofrio has gathered plenty of talented friends together for “The Kid” — and each of them gets a moment to shine in what is one of the most unique takes on Billy the Kid’s story to hit the big screen.
Ethan Hawke, who starred with D’Onofrio in “The Magnificent Seven,” among other films, gives layers to Pat Garrett that no previous actor really has. And Dane DeHaan manages to capture the contagious rebel spirit of Billy the Kid, as well as his heartlessness and manipulative ways.
Adam Baldwin, D’Onofrio’s co-star in “Full Metal Jacket,” shows up as an overconfident lawman determined to instill fear in Billy the Kid.
And shining above all the rest is Chris Pratt, another “Magnificent Seven” alumnus, who finally gets a chance to play more than a good-hearted, quippy hero. Pratt disappears into the role of the film’s antagonist here. …