Cast: Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan, Jake Schur, Leila George
Director: Vincent D’Onofrio
The Kid is in a very unique spot with the way it was released compared to the budget and the people associated with the film. With a small $7 million budget for a Lionsgate movie and a limited release, the movie was almost set up to fail and there was little to no chance it would be anything other than a bomb. With that in mind, the budget and distribution strategy of the film should have no impact on the quality of content, but it may be an indicator of what the studio thinks of the film. While The Kid has some highlight moments and a strong performance from DeHaan, none of this was worth the bombing that Lionsgate faced when sending this movie out for distribution.
The film follows Rio (Schur) and Sara (George) Cutler, a pair of siblings who killed their father for beating their mother to death and are being hunted by their uncle Grant (Chris Pratt) who wants them to pay for killing his brother. While on their way to Santa Fe, the meet the famous outlaw Billy the Kid (DeHaan) and Sheriff Pat Garrett (Hawke) who is taking him in to be hanged. Seeing this as an opportunity to get his situation resolved and move on with his life, Rio takes to Billy and learns about how to navigate the world and finally be free from his threatening uncle. All of this takes place while Billy and Pat have their standoffs to finally figure out if Billy will escape again or if Pat will put him to justice. Over the course of 100 minutes, all of these storylines come together to create an environment where allegiances shift and everyone is ultimately looking out for themselves. The thing that impressed me the most about The Kid is it truly showed that DeHaan is capable of holding his own in a substantial role, I’ve always thought he was nowhere near as talented as the people he came up with like Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalamet, but DeHaan really owned this role and showed us that he is very capable of making the next big jump in his career. Outside of DeHaan’s performance though, the film is a very average and pedestrian 21st century Western. It’s not particularly weak in any one area, but it fails to elevate itself into something truly great. Hawke and Pratt are strong in their roles, but the circumstances surrounding their characters are lackluster compared to other modern westerns The Kid lacks the depth necessary to really be anything other than a mediocre and safe movie even when the circumstances surrounding the plot are anything but safe. With a cast this front-loaded and the money and studio to really add something special to the film, there aren’t too many reasons why the movie couldn’t set itself apart and create its own expectations and reality. There’s an interesting story somewhere deep in the script of The Kid, but it got muddied somewhere between the fantastic cast and the lack of faith put into it by Lionsgate.
Overall, if you put the amount of talent present in The Kid in a film with higher stakes and a bigger budget, then very realistically you could have a film that competes for awards all year long. With that in mind, it feels as though The Kid never goes far enough with developing its characters and leaves us asking for more. While the performances are fine and the concept for something interesting is there, The Kid never capitalizes on the opportunities available for it and decides to play it safe much to the displeasure of the audience.
Overall Score: 5/10