The actors here are the highlight of this movie. All of them fit their roles perfectly and execute them triumphantly. Emilio Estevez plays the most complex character very convincingly. Lou Diamond Phillips gives a gritty and real performance. The rest of the cast is marvelous as well.
Of course in a movie like this, there are many different gun battles. I've always found shootouts to be one the most relentlessly boring action brawls in cinema. But, oddly enough, they work quite well in this picture. The dialogue is so wonderfully self-aware and the characters provide a such a bite to their performances that all of the battles are not only engaging, but wonderfully entertaining.
Young Guns, at times, feels like a parade for these teen idols. Even though their performances are real and very well-placed, the directing and the camerawork show an overall obsession with our lead actors, and not with our characters. What could have been an intriguing character piece turns into yet another star-studded vehicle.
Along with that, because the film is so focused on the actors/characters, the movie itself has a very limited and narrow scope. The movie plays out as if it wants you to believe that there is SO MUCH at stake, but we rarely get any glimpse of life or purpose outside of the gang. I did like the characters, and I liked the pacing, but there is so many places the movie could have, and should have, gone. Because these things are only hinted at, we get a very shallow and unsatisfying result.
This is a superiorly entertaining Western. There is quite a bit to like and admire here. Here is a movie that boasts of being so grand, but whose expanse is actually quite minimal. Looking at the title, I'm still in debate as to whether 'Young Guns' refers to the young age of these experienced gunmen, or if the producers were really highlighting the physique of their good-looking young stars.