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