Robert Knepper

Young Guns II (1990, Geoff Murphy)

In many ways, Young Guns II is an improvement over the first. Geoff Murphy knows how to direct a Western, at least until he has to do a showdown scene and then he’s in trouble, but if it’s general Western action, he can do it. And he’s got the same cinematographer as the first movie, Dean Semler, who this entry has a far better color palette to work with. It’s lush. Young Guns II is a lush film.

It’s a bad film too. But lush.

The big problem is how the film treats Emilio Estevez’s Billy the Kid. His psychotic behavior isn’t even a plot point. He’s just rambunctious and a little shit. Emilio Estevez’s Billy the Kid is Dennis the Menace. He’s a twerp. Estevez, screenwriter John Fusco and director Murphy are all on the same page with the character. He’s a murderous twerp, but he’s just a twerp. Any sense of reality is out the window straight off in Young Guns II. The cost of the lushness.

Estevez is bad and not in an interesting way. Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Phillips look trapped. Neither of them get a subplot. They get pretend subplots, but not actual ones. New cast member Christian Slater is awful. Alan Ruck isn’t bad. William Petersen’s a lame Pat Garrett.

There are a lot of great character actors and just plain familiar character actors filling out the film’s supporting cast and none of them are actually good. I mean, seeing Viggo Mortensen as an uncool government employee is something, but it’s not like he’s good. Tracey Walter’s not even good in Young Guns II. Murphy can’t direct actors. Okay, maybe he wasn’t in on the changes to how to portray Estevez.

Jenny Wright is actually pretty good in a tiny part.

Excellent production design from Gene Rudolf–another of the improvements over the first film–and a really weird, bad score from Alan Silvestri. He hits a lot of the regular Silvestri cues, occasionally to success, but it’s omnipresent and too loud. He also has a theme similar to the opening of Time After Time and you just sit there and wish Cyndi Lauper would start singing so there’d be something good.

It’s okay until the third act? I mean, it’s fine until the third act. I don’t know why I’m trying to be nice. Oh, because I’m listening to Time After Time and I have goodness, which Young Guns II doesn’t really offer.



Directed by Geoff Murphy; written by John Fusco; director of photography, Dean Semler; edited by Bruce Green; music by Alan Silvestri; production designer, Gene Rudolf; produced by Irby Smith and Paul Schiff; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Emilio Estevez (Billy), Kiefer Sutherland (Doc), Lou Diamond Phillips (Chavez), Christian Slater (Arkansas Dave), William Petersen (Pat Garrett), Alan Ruck (Hendry William French), R.D. Call (D.A. Rynerson), James Coburn (John Simpson Chisum), Balthazar Getty (Tom O’Folliard), Jack Kehoe (Ashmun Upson), Robert Knepper (Deputy Carlyle), Viggo Mortensen (John W. Poe), Tracey Walter (Beever Smith), Bradley Whitford (Charles Phalen), Scott Wilson (Governor Lewis Wallace) and Jenny Wright (Jane Greathouse).

Transporter 3 (2008, Olivier Megaton)

When an action movie franchise hits the third one (X-Men, Lethal Weapon), they generally know what they’re doing and who they’re making the movie for and instead of producing some wonted exercise, members of this illustrious group of sequels are assured, affable and a lot of fun. The Transporter series is a constant disappointment, since it puts Jason Statham’s likability above his acting ability–so it’s a real surprise to see it join that group.

The film opens with him and sidekick François Berléand fishing together (it’s one of those almost meta moments in fiction, like the Star Trek trio camping) and, even with the lousy editing, it’s lovely. Olivier Megaton’s got some good composition and he can handle a conversation, but the editing is just atrocious–lots of speeding up and slowing down–the fight scenes with Statham are boring. In some ways, it’s a terrible use of Panavision.

Luc Besson, co-writing again, finally gets to put his romance angle in one of the Transporter entries significantly, with love interest Natalya Rudakova. Like most of Besson’s love interests, the age difference between her and her lover is questionable (though not as much as The Professional). But Rudakova turns out to be a real find. She plays the role like an established Russian actress doing her first English language role and she’s not. It’s her first (and, unfortunately, only) film.

Berléand’s great as always, Jeroen Krabbé’s cashing a paycheck, Robert Knepper isn’t a terrible villain.

It’s good stuff.



Directed by Olivier Megaton; written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen; director of photography, Giovanni Fiore Coltellacci; edited by Camille Delamarre and Carlo Rizzo; music by Alexandre Azari; production designer, Patrick Durand; produced by Besson and Steve Chasman; released by Lionsgate.

Starring Jason Statham (Frank Martin), Natalya Rudakova (Valentina), François Berléand (Inspector Tarconi), Robert Knepper (Johnson), Jeroen Krabbé (Leonid Vasilev) and Timo Dierkes (Otto).

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