25th Mar2019

‘The Kid’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Dane DeHaan, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, Leila George, Ethan Hawke, Adam Baldwin, Tait Fletcher, Jake Schur, Keith Jardine, Jenny Gabrielle, Ben Dickey, Howard Ferguson Jr., Stafford Douglas, Hawk D’Onofrio | Written by Andrew Lanham | Directed by Vincent D’Onofrio


The Kid, directed by Vincent D’Onofrio, is a finely formed and sturdy old-fashioned western that evokes classics within the genre such as Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon and Henry Hathaway’s True Grit. It’s not a masterpiece of the genre by any means, as it doesn’t transcend the generic material at hand. However, it’s a strong compelling rendition of the somewhat conventional revenge story we’re all accustomed towards, with an affirmative narrative that explores the ideal of loyalty, fate and ambiguity of law in an honest, almost cathartic exploration that propel this into something quite special. Resulting in nothing short of a terrifically engaging, entertaining piece of cinema that tells a tremendous tale with grace and emotionally intrusive discourse.

Performance wise D’Onofrio’s feature The Kid is in spectacular form. Dane DeHaan – the often forgotten about talent in Hollywood – is utilised to great effect. His screen presence is still lacking with poor bravado and quirky monotone delivery; however, he possesses an enigmatic position with his character with an entertaining offering as multi-dimensional villain Billy. Ethan Hawke, coming off a spectacular year in film in 2018, once again puts forward a terrific role and is undoubtedly the film’s most outstanding performance as infamous Sherriff Pat Garrett. A wholehearted character in his conviction of the law and principal conflicted with his past and ever-evolving future. It doesn’t perhaps have the vastest of layers, aside from a few throwaway lines of exposition but the screen presence and sharpness Hawke brings to the role fills the screen with an unyielding dense dominance.

Chris Pratt is also rather spectacular here playing against his usual archetype heroic type. In what is essentially a bloated yet deeply gleefully twisted cameo as villain Grant Cutler. Thankfully both D’Onofrio and writer Andrew Lanham bookend Pratt’s character in what plays out as a third party of sorts. Waiting in the wings but never overtaking the central narrative of the clash between Billy and Garrett. It’s a somewhat genius decision to create tectonic tension and ramp it up to the maximum with how The Kid unfolds, with each developing thread coming at a deadlier and more daunting cost but the true terror lurks in the distance, unleashing in surprise effect in the film’s final act.

Jake Schur in his feature film and acting debut as Rio – the titular character of the piece – is excellent. A performance with formidable emotional depth and is the pinnacle of emotional resonation between film and audience. Without Schur’s brilliantly radiant performance the link dissolves with weak conviction. Thankfully Schur puts forward a compelling piece of achievement far beyond his years and the result is a flowering atmosphere that develops in profound confidence. Leila George as Sara equals that of Schur (her on-screen brother) with touching sentiment but is drastically underutilised in the films narrative to make room to develop the bonding thread between Rio and Billy, and while said thread does add to the overall story it’s a shame that George gets dealt the blow of lacking screen-time because when utilised it works wonders regarding a warm moving resonance to picture full of haunting pessimism.

The Kid is in US cinemas now.


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