action, movie, movie review, western

June 23rd, 2018 Movie – Young Guns II

young guns 2

You ever have a song that seems to be everywhere and you can’t escape it. Well that was the case in 1990 as Jon Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory” seemed to be played ALL THE TIME. Now I will admit that it is a catchy song and I didn’t mind hearing it every now and then, but it really did seem to be on every time you turned on the radio. Now, this did make for some effective marketing for today’s movie, as it was the featured song for the movie. Now let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Young Guns II.

The plot: In 1950, attorney Charles Phalen meets with a man named Brushy Bill Roberts out in the New Mexico desert. Roberts explains that he wants Pelham’s help in securing the pardon he was promised 70 years ago by then New Mexico Governor Lew Wallace, telling Pelham that his real name is William H. Bonney, alias Billy The Kid. Pelham doesn’t believe him, saying that Billy the Kid was killed by Pat Garrett in 1881 and asks if Roberts has any proof to his claim, such as any scars. In flashback, Roberts explains that after he had parted ways with Doc Scurlock and Luis Chavez y Chavez, he had formed a new gang with Pat Garrett and Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh. When some bounty hunters attempt to kill Billy, the three manage to kill the bounty hunters, though Billy is shot in the leg in the process. Meanwhile, Doc is living in New York City and working as a school teacher when US Marshals break down the door and arrest Doc, as they are bringing all of the men involved in the Lincoln County War back to New Mexico to be executed. When he arrives in Lincoln, he is thrown into a gallows pit with some other prisoners and discovers that Chavez has also been captured. Meanwhile, Billy, Garrett, and Dave head to a border town that they have taken to hiding in and as Billy gets his wound tended too, he learns about the warrents issued for him and everyone involved in the Lincoln County War. A young boy named Tom O’Folliard approaches Billy, wanting to ride in his gang, but Billy tries to steer him clear of the lifestyle by showing him the wound in his leg and saying it could just as easily be in his head. When some soldiers show up, the residents hide Billy so they don’t find him and later, Garrett sneaks him some food and tells him that he is thinking of giving up the outlaw life and settle down. When one of the townsfolk decides to take a shot at Billy, he is forced to shoot him, then ends up in a gunfight with the soldiers but is able to escape town. Billy makes his way to see Governor Wallace, who offers Billy a full pardon in exchange for his testimony against the members of the Dolan-Murphy gang. Billy accepts and is taken to Lincoln to testify, only to find out that the prosecutors had no intention of using his testimony, making the deal null and void. Due to the fact that his wrists are bigger than his hands, Billy is able to slip out of his cuffs and escape, but overhears the sheriff telling the prisoners that a lynch mob is expected to arrive that night. Billy, Garrett, and Dave disguise themselves as members of the lynch mob and manage to trick the sheriff into releasing Doc and Chavez into their custody but when the real lynch mob shows up, they are forced to fight their way out of town. Later, as he is shooting the shackles from Doc and Chavez, he tells them that things are getting too hot and he is going to take the Mexican Blackbird, a series of broken trails that only he and a few others know, and head down to Mexico. Doc wants to head back to New York but Garrett warns him that things aren’t the same as they were when he was last in Lincoln and when he sees a posse heading towards them, he reluctantly follows after Billy and the others. Riding back to their hideout, Billy sends Garrett out to get some more people to join them but the only person he can find is a former farmer named Henry William French. Garrett then tells Billy that he won’t be riding with him, as he decided to follow through on his idea of settling down and opening up his own place and Billy argues with him briefly before accepting his friends decision, then agrees to let Tom ride with them when he is caught stealing some food. The next day, Billy, Doc, Chavez, Dave, Henry, and Tom ride to the ranch owned by John Simpson Chisum, a wealthy land owner who was an ally of Tunstall and McSween during the war. Billy tells Chisum that he owes them money for some services rendered as well as his avoiding hitting his property but Chisum says he doesn’t owe them anything. Billy threatens to kill one of his men for every $5 dollars that they owe, then has Dave kill one of Chisum’s men while Doc is forced to kill another. With Chisum refusing to pay them, Billy and the others rustle some of his cattle in order to get some money and head on to Mexico. Chisum meets with Wallace and they have Garrett brought to the Governor’s mansion, where they ask him to become the new sheriff of Lincoln County, offering him $1000 and all the resources he needs in order to capture Billy and his gang. Garrett accepts the job and hires his friend Ashmun Upson, a drunken journalist, to ride with him and document the journey. In the desert, Billy wakes up the others by shooting a newspaper article, telling them that Garrett is the new sheriff chasing them. As they head towards Mexico, they come across an Apache burial ground and Chavez says they should go around it but Dave argues that they can sell the bones for money. When he starts to dig up a grave, Chavez attacks him and the two begin fighting, with Dave stabbing Chavez in the arm with his knife while Chavez slashes Dave with his before they are forced to call a truce. The group arrive at the town of White Oak, where they meet up with Jane Greathouse, a friend of Billy, Doc, and Chavez’s who has opened a brothel. As the group is entertained for the night, a lynch mob comprised of the town’s citizens shows up ready to hang them. Deputy Carlyle tries to keep the peace and asks to come inside to speak with Billy. Once inside, he explains that he intends to follow the law but things will get ugly if the crowd doesn’t get a hanging so he proposes that Billy gives him Chavez to satisfy the crowd and the others can leave out the back. Billy refuses to turn over his friend and instead, puts Chavez’s hat and poncho on him and shoves him out the door while yelling at the crowd, causing the crowd to mistakenly shoot Carlyle, then quickly disperse when they realize what the did. Garrett and his men arrive shortly afterwards and after questioning Jane, he sets her place on fire, saying he is following the law and the towns wishes, and Jane proceeds to ride out of town naked to show what she thinks of the town. Billy and his gang end up in a small mining community that is mining guano but Garrett and his men catch up to them and start shooting. Billy and the others manage to get away ride their horses off a cliff, forcing Garrett and his men to take the long way around to try and catch them again. As Billy and the others continue, he and Tom ride on ahead to scout only to see Garrett close by. Despite the sun being in his eyes, Garrett takes aim and fires, thinking he shot Billy but as he rides up to inspect the body, realizes that he shot Tom, who says he can’t believe he shot him before passing away. Billy and the others take refuge in a abandoned house and when Doc asks him about the trail, Billy admits that there is no trail. Doc gets angry and goes to leave, only to be shot by one of Garrett’s men when he steps out of the house. As they argue over what to do, Doc tells Billy to finish the game and Billy hands him a pistol. Doc then charges out and begins firing at Garrett and his men, only to be gunned down. Dave, Henry, and Chavez manage to get away but when Chavez is shot, Henry goes back to help him while Dave continues on his way. Billy ends up being captured and is taken back to Lincoln, where the judge sentences him to be hanged. As he is awaiting his execution, Billy receives a visit from Jane, who has opened a new brothel and secretly gives him a note saying “outhouse”. When Billy goes to the outhouse, he finds a gun she had hidden for him inside and uses it to kill his guards and make his escape, riding back to his hideout in Fort Sumner. Chavez and Henry also head there and when he says that they need to head out, Chavez tells him he isn’t going anywhere, showing him his gut wound, and he wanders off to die. Henry also chooses to leave and as the town holds a celebration that night, Billy is confronted by Garrett. Billy and Garrett argue, with Billy telling Garrett to let him go to Mexico and Garrett says he can’t because he knows Billy would come back. As they continue arguing, Billy turns his back and starts to walk away, forcing Garrett to shoot him in the back. As a funeral is held for Billy, someone steals Garrett’s horse while in the present, Bill Roberts says he never stole a horse from someone he didn’t like and he loved Garrett like a brother. Dave had made it to Mexico but was beheaded shortly afterwards as a warning to outlaws crossing the border. Garrett’s book about the life of Billy the Kid was a failure and he was shot dead in 1908. Bill Roberts was brought before the governor on November 29, 1950 and despite several surviving witnesses that knew Billy the Kid and corroborated his claim, he was discredited and died 1 month later in Hico, Texas.

Young Guns II received mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that it was an entertaining movie, but lacked some of the depth from the previous film. Emilio Estevez had approached Jon Bon Jovi to ask permission to use “Wanted Dead Or Alive” in the movie but Bon Jovi felt the lyrics were inappropriate. Instead, he was inspired by the project and wrote a new song, “Blaze Of Glory”, that better caught the period and setting of the film, and would end up being #1 hit on the Billboard 100. Much like it’s predecessor, the movie was a hit at the box office, earning $44.1 million off of a $10 million budget.

The sequel curse definitely hit this movie as it was definitely not as good as the original. The acting was ok, as I liked Emilio Estevez reprising his role as Billy and I thought Lou Diamond Phillips was equally good as Chavez but felt like Kiefer Sutherland wasn’t too keen to return and didn’t put much emphasis into his character. I thought Christian Slater was great as Arkansas Dave and loved his constant challenging of Billy for leadership and William Petersen was decent as Garrett. The story was pretty good, focusing on the controversy that surrounds Bill Roberts, who did claim to be Billy the Kid and brought new life to the debate, which cause it to be brought up on Unsolved Mysteries. The special effects regarding the gunfights did seem better than the first movie but it didn’t do much to make the movie itself better. It’s some fun watching when you’re bored, but the original is still better.

Rating: 3 out of 5

crime, drama, movie, movie review, thriller

April 11th, 2018 Movie – The Untouchables

the untouchables

You know, I just now realized that I had some of my movies completely out of order. I’m pretty sure it happened last year when I bout all of those box sets and was trying to get everything entered into my list, and just wasn’t paying that much attentions as I got further into the alphabet. Well, I shall try to do a better job of that in the future so let’s move on to today’s movie. Now I have seen portions of this movie for years on television but I think the first time I ever saw this in it’s entirety was when I actually bought the DVD for myself. I mean, this is one of those movies that tends to wind up on those “must watch” lists so I figured I might as well get it so I could watch the whole thing in one go. Was this an good choice of an impulse buy? Only one way to find out so let’s see how much I enjoy today’s movie, The Untouchables.

The plot: During the Prohibition era in Chicago, Al Capone has risen to power as the top gang lord controlling the illegal alcohol in the city. After a bombing at a local shop kills a 10 year old girl, Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness is sent to Chicago to work with the police in bringing Capone down. After giving a brief press conference, Ness speaks to the police officers assigned to the task force and tells them he knows some of them have probably had a drink before, but from now on, they have to stop as the best way to enforce the law is to show that they are following the law themselves. That night, Ness stakes out a suspected liquor storage facility and is forced to chase away a newspaper reporter who was staking out the scene as well. After spotting activity at the warehouse, Ness leads a raid inside, capturing the workers and inviting the photographer to take a picture of him exposing the illegal liquor, only to find the crates filled with umbrellas. Upset at seeing the newspapers talking about the failed bust, Ness encounters beat cop Jimmy Malone, who offers him some advise on handling Chicago. After receiving a visit from the little girl’s mother, Ness goes to see Malone and tries to recruit him to join his team but Malone refuses. Returning to the police station, Ness is greeted by Oscar Wallace, a member of the FBI’s accounting division, who says they might be able to build a case against Capone for tax evasion. Ness is frustrated at that but sees Malone standing outside his office and goes to talk to him. Malone takes him out of the station, saying the walls have ears, and helps Ness realize that the reason his raid failed was because the police tipped off Capone. Malone takes Ness to the police academy, where they recruit George Stone (whose real name isĀ Giuseppe Petri) to join their team. After heading back to the station, Malone grabs some shotguns from the weapons closet and hands them to Ness, Stone, and Wallace, then leads them to one of Capone’s liquor caches. The men successfully pull off the raid on the surprised workers and the press starts giving them some positive publicity, calling them the Untouchables. That night, Capone is hosting a dinner for his men and kills the man in charge of the raided cache as a warning to the others. The next day, Ness is visited by an associate of Capone, who offers Ness a bribe to look the other way regarding Capone’s business, but Ness refuses and throws the man out of his office. As Ness heads home that night, Capone’s hitman, Frank Nitti, speaks to him from his car, making subtle threats to Ness’ family before driving off. Ness rushes into his house and after making sure that his wife and daughter are safe, he contacts Malone. Wallace and a police officer, who happens to be Malone’s cousin, show up and the officer takes Ness’ family to a safe house for safety. After they drive off, Malone and Stone show up and Malone tells Ness that they know when Capone is expecting a delivery of liquor across the Canadian border and they quickly head off to stop it. Meeting up with a division of Canadian Mounties, Ness works out a plan and they wait to ambush the delivery. When the delivery occurs, the Mounties jump the gun and Ness and his team are forced to rush out to carry out their part of the ambush. A shoot out occurs and Stone is wounded but they manage to kill several of Capone’s men and capture George, one of Capone’s bookkeepers. As Wallace looks at the books that George was carrying, he realizes that if they can prove that Capone is receiving payments, that will seal their case against him for tax evasion. George refuses to say anything but when Malone grabs the body of a dead man and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t talk, not revealing to George that the man is already dead, Malone shoots him and George immediately says he will confess. After hearing that the liquor shipment was seized and that George has been captured, Capone orders his men to kill Ness and his family in retaliation. The next day, the district attorney announces that they are filling charges against Capone for tax evasion and Wallace is preparing to escort George to a safe house so he can testify in court. As they take the elevator down to the street, they are shot by Nitti, who was disguised as a police officer. Hearing the shots, Ness and Malone go to check on Wallace and find the police escorts dead as well as George and Wallace, with the word “Touchable” written in blood on the elevator wall. Ness is enraged and heads out to confront Capone and when Capone taunts him, he starts to pull out a gun to shoot him but Malone stops him and tells him. When the D.A. talks about not pressing the case, Ness starts to give up hope on bringing down Capone but Malone tells him to stall the D.A., saying he might have a way to get the information they need. Malone goes to see Police Chief Mike Dorsett, knowing that he was the one that set up Wallace and George, and Mike tells him he was doing him a favor by letting them be killed instead of all of them like Capone wanted. The two men fight and Malone eventually learns when Walter Payne, Capone’s head bookkeeper is set to be moved out of the city. Malone calls Stone and tells him to let Ness know he found the bookkeeper and to meet at his apartment. As he waits for Ness and Stone, Malone is confronted by one of Capone’s men but as he chases the man out of his apartment, he is shot by Nitti, who was waiting in ambush. When Ness and Stone arrive, they find Malone mortally wounded but he is able to relay the information that Payne will be arriving at Union Station at midnight. Ness and Stone head there and start looking around for any sign of Payne, during which time, NEss decides to help a woman carry her baby carriage up the stairs when he notices several of Capone’s gangsters exiting the train. When Ness realizes he has been made, he starts shooting the gangsters, with Stone joining in, then rushes to keep the carriage from falling down the stairs and killing the baby. Stone manages to stop the carriage as the last gangster threatens to kill Payne but Stone is able to shoot him, saving Payne’s life. The trial commences and as Payne gives his testimony, Capone doesn’t look worried and the D.A. speaks with Ness and Stone about it. When he notices Nitti speaking with Capone then leave the courtroom, Ness follows him and has the guard search him. He finds a gun on him but also a note containing permission from the mayor to carry it and is forced to give it back. Grabbing a pack of matches from Nitti’s jacket to light a cigarette, Ness finds Malone’s address written on it and realizes Nitti killed Malone. Malone shoots the guard and flees up onto the rooftop, with Ness following him and eventually capturing him but when Nitti taunts him about how Malone died, Ness throws him off the roof. As Ness returns inside, Stone approaches him with a list he found inside Nitti’s jacket and reveals that it is a list of the jurors, indicating they have been bribed. Ness and Stone bring the list to the judge’s attention but he refuses to switch jurors but when Ness asks to speak with him alone, Ness tells the judge that his name is in Capone’s ledger. As the trial resumes, the judge orders the jurors to be switched and as confusion sets in at Capone’s table, his lawyer changes his plea to guilty, causing Capone to punch him as pandemonium breaks out in the courtroom. Some time later, Ness is packing up his office and says goodbye to Stone, who tries to give Ness Malone’s St. Jude medallion and callbox key but Ness tells him to keep them. As Ness leaves the station, he is approached by a reporter for a statement and is asked what he will do if Prohibition is repealed and Ness smiles and says he will have a drink, then walks off.

The Untouchables met with positive results from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Slick on the surface but loaded with artful touches, Brian DePalma’s classical gangster thriller is a sharp look at period Chicago crime, featuring excellent performances from a top-notch cast.” Unlike the movie, in real life Al Capone had a non-violence order issued to his men in regards to the Untouchables, as he knew killing a Prohibition Agent would bring more trouble than he wanted to deal with. The movie was a box office success, earning $106.2 million off of a $25 million budget and was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, with Sean Connery winning the award for Best Supporting Actor.

I do think this movie got a little bit over hyped but it is a good movie none the less. The acting was good, with Kevin Costner doing an ok job as Ness but Robert De Niro and Sean Connery doing great jobs in their roles of Capone and Malone respectively. The story was good, with some basis in reality embellished to make it more entertaining to the audience. The special effects with the gun battles were about what you would expect for the time. My biggest problem with this movie is honestly some of the camera work involved. I thought the repeated use of different camera angles to replay the same scene over and over in an attempt to accent the impact or action was a little much. However, the true point of ridiculousness on this matter was when Nitti was thrown from the roof, as the camera changes to a close up of his face screaming as he falls to the ground. That was some of the most ridiculous blue screening I have seen coming from a big budget movie in a long, long time. So, is this a good movie? Yes. Is this a must see movie? That one is a matter of a personal opinion but personally, I wouldn’t call it a must see unless you enjoy movies based on real events.

Rating: 4 out of 5