Rated: PG
Runtime: 1 Hour and 35 Minutes

Reviewer: Jones
Grade: A+

After seeing Terrence Malick's most recent film, "The Thin Red Line", I felt a strong desire to see more of his work. So I ordered the other two movies he has helmed over the last 27 years. Why he hasn't done more is beyond me, but thankfully what he has given us can be described as nothing short of breathtaking.

"Badlands" is the film that introduced the world to Terrence Malick's exceptional vision through the medium of film. It is the story of a guy from the wrong side of the tracks named
Kit (played to perfection by Martin Sheen) and his naive girlfriend Holly (played by a very young, but very talented Sissy Spacek). Theirs is a story of lust gone bad.

Holly is all of 15 years old while Kit is some 10 years her senior. Holly's father disapproves of her seeing Kit and, when she goes against his wishes, he shoots her dog as punishment.
Seeing this scene, I really wanted to see something bad happen to this man. Thankfully he gets his just desserts in the form of Kit popping a cap in his ass for his cold and callous ways. Holly doesn't seem to know what to make of all this, so Kit, being the smooth operator that he is, says all the right things to get her to go along with him.

What follows is a series of incidents involving anyone from the police to past friends, in the delusional couple's quest for the freedom they believe they will find on Canadian soil. It all ends with a finale that will most assuredly not be forgotten...

The film rides on strong performances from both Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. In watching Martin Sheen portray Kit, I couldn't help but wonder how this man ever could have fathered Charlie. Maybe the acting gene skipped a generation in Chuck's case. Anyway, Kit is the victim of poor decisions. These begin as the movie gets underway, as he walks off his job with no good reason and end with........ What? You thought I was going to tell you? No such luck. Watch the movie.

Opposite Sheen is Sissy Spacek, who gives the best performance of her career as Holly. She is so genuinely naive that you immediately identify with her. No matter how smooth you think you are, you have had moments of that nature before. Holly has these moments all the time.
She blindly follows Kit along his path of destruction.

Holly also acts as the narrator of the film which after seeing all three of his films now, seems to be a Malick staple. Malick's eye for the visual wonder that film is able to capture is on display here as well. The bleak landscape that comprises the terrain of South Dakota and Montana is portrayed in a way that makes it appear hauntingly beautiful.

"Badlands" is quite remarkable, considering it is Malick's first film. Most directors would kill to be able to create a film of this magnitude, yet for Malick it was simply the beginning.

If you want an introduction to the work of Terrence Malick, this is the film to see. The fantasy that is "Badlands" can be described as something akin to marriage. You know that nothing good can come of what lies ahead, but you want to go along for the ride anyway.

Take the ride.