Gambler V: Playing for Keeps (1994)
Character Name: Sundance Kid
Loitering about the busy streets of Fort Worth, Texas and looking very dapper, Butch Cassidy (Scott Paulin) and his partner the Sundance Kid (Brett Cullen) watch in amusement as a local sheriff attempts the 1800s version of traffic control.
Believing that it would complete his friend’s ensemble, Butch dares Sundance into lifting the sheriff’s gold pocket watch. Not one to pass up a challenge, Sundance easily lifts the watch and together with Butch, high tails it away from the scene of the crime, narrowly escaping capture.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Wild Bunch and their ladies are waiting for them in a photographer’s studio. When Butch and Sundance finally arrive, they pose with their gang for a photo which will eventually bring about their downfall.
Brady Hawkes (Kenny Rogers), known as the Gambler, has won a run down farm in a poker game. He intends to fix the place up and turn it into a working ranch, much to his friend Billy Montana’s (Bruce Boxleitner) disbelief. But before he can get too far into this venture, he sees the photo of the Wild Bunch in the paper and sees that his son Jeremiah (Kris Kamm), is one of the gang.
Hawkes set off after the Wild Bunch, determined to bring his wayward son home.
In their quest for enough money to go straight, Butch and his Wild Bunch along with Sundance’s woman Etta Place (Mariska Hargitay), rob banks and trains. All the while, the Pinkerton agents, a well dressed bunch of stuffy, overbearing gentlemen, are right behind them and getting closer. Brady is right there too, often joining forces with the agents.
Soon it gets too hot for what’s left of the Wild Bunch and they head south to Bolivia. Unfortunately, Etta misses the train and for a while it looks like she’ll never see Sundance again. But Brady Hawkes hasn’t given up in his search and together they make their way south eventually finding Butch, Sundance and Jeremiah in dire straights. So much so that they decide to give up any notion of being law abiding citizens and return to their outlaw ways.
The final days of the Wild Bunch have been widely written and speculated upon. Did Butch and Sundance survive the attack by the Bolivian army? What happened to Etta Place? In this version, their fates are left to the viewer’s imagination.
Paulin and Cullen bring their characters to life much in the same spirit as Newman and Redford did thirty years ago but with more realism. Their dusty clothes and unshaven cheeks lend a bit of grit to the movie and they work well together, making the friendship between the outlaws believable.
Kenny Roger’s scenes are best viewed in fast forward.
(Review courtesy of Sandra Nitchman)