Ryan’s review published on Letterboxd:
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid presents a classic setup by telling a story about two friends who begin on the same side of the law and end up on opposite sides, as one aims to bring down the other.
James Coburn, giving a brilliant performance, stars as Pat Garrett, sheriff of Lincoln County, who is ordered by his superiors to take down his old friend, the roguish outlaw Billy The Kid (Kris Kristofferson). James Coburn brings a heartbreaking undertone to his character as he is forced to transition from former friend to manhunter. Kris Kristofferson is delightfully charming as Billy, the bad boy and reluctant assassin. It's a simple road film with Pat Garrett giving chase to Billy the Kid after he initially slips away from captivaty, with things getting interesting and increasingly violent as others get involved.
Director Sam Peckinpah works tirelessly to bring these larger than life mythical figures to life while simultaneously working to tear down their overblown grandeur. At its core the film is about men facing the end of their lives, centering around the moral and professional dilemma that the aging sheriff experiences. This somber tribute to old wild American frontier results in a much more melancholy movie than you might expect. It's mostly a contemplative film with evocative imagery, interrupted occasionally by acts of brutal violence.
Legendary singer/songwriter Bob Dylan appears in the film as a knife wielding quiet spoken member of Billy's gang named Alias. Dylan does an altogether excellent job in one of his rare acting roles. In addition to his on screen performance, Dylan composed several stunning meditative songs for the films score which includes the now classic "Knocking on Heaven’s Door".
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is a beautifully shot and crafted landmark film of the revisionist western genre. It has almost immediately become one for all time favourites of the genre.