Billy the Kid (1989) starring Val Kilmer, Andrew Bicknell, Wilford Brimley, Duncan Regehr, Ned Vaughn, Gore Vidal directed by William A. Graham Movie Review

Billy the Kid (1989)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Val Kilmer in Billy the Kid (1989)

Billy the Bumpkin

The story of William Bonney (aka: Billy the Kid) is such an interesting one that despite it having been covered several times on the big and small screen each version has its merits. When it comes to this 1989 TV version based on Gore Vidal's the interest comes from the characterisation more than anything and in truth of you are only accustomed to the big screen versions of Billy the Kid this one might take some time to get use to.

Now I'm not going to waste yours or my time telling you the synopsis to "Billy the Kid" because it is the same basic story you will find in other movies based on the legendary outlaw. But whilst the basic storyline is an interesting one this movie does end up struggling for the simple reason it pretty much shuns actions and focuses on the characters and their interactions. For those who want to watch a western full of action it makes "Billy the Kid" initially hard work although once you get into it the lack of frequent action isn't too much of an issues.

But here is the simple truth "Billy the Kid" retells a familiar story but focuses on the characters yet whilst that makes it entertaining there is one real reason to watch this when you have watched other movies about Billy the Kid. That reason is Val Kilmer who plays Billy the Kid as a bumpkin, a small town guy with this dumb look on his face. But it is more than that because the dumb small town look and way of speaking betrays intelligence. At the same time he gives him a dangerous wild side but one which isn't reckless. It is because Val Kilmer delivers a fantastic characterisation that "Billy the Kid" is worth seeking out to watch.

What this all boils down to is that this version of "Billy the Kid" isn't going to be for everyone as it doesn't resort to the action and bravado of other versions. But it does feature a fantastic characterisation by Val Kilmer which gives it a unique sort of appeal.