Badlands (1973) Movie Review

Director: Terrence Malick

Writer: Terrence Malick (Screenplay)

Starring: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates, Ramon Bieri, Alan Vint, Gary Littlejohn

Plot: An impressionable teenage girl from a dead-end town and her older greaser boyfriend embark on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands.


Tagline – He was 25 years old. He combed his hair like James Dean. She was 15. She took music lessons and could twirl a baton. For a while they lived together in a tree house. In 1959, she watched while he killed a lot of people.

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Classic

Story: Badlands starts as we meet drifter Kit (Sheen) who moves between jobs with his latest being a garbage man, he meets the 15-year-old Holly (Spacek) on his rounds and the two start hanging out, as he starts a new job as a cowboy.

After Holly’s Father (Oates) finds out about their relationship, he forbids it, which sees Kit kill him and the lovers go on the run, living off the land, until the police start tracking down their criminal activities.

Thoughts on Badlands

Characters – Kit is a 25-year-old drifter, he hasn’t been able to hold down a job for long and now he has lost his latest one, until he meets Holly, where he tries his hand on the latest job, he gets jealous and protective of Holly, killing anyone who gets in their way. Holly is the 15-year-old that takes a shine to Kit, because of his James Dean looks and that he doesn’t just want her for sex, she will follow him to the ends of the Earth if this means they can be together, also telling the story. We only meet a few other characters along the way, with Holly’s father and helpful people that are mostly the victims of Kit’s aggressive behaviour.

PerformancesMartin Sheen and Sissy Spacek are both wonderful in the leading roles of this film, they show the opposites the two have, while the bond between them feels strong.

StoryThe story here follows a drifter that falls in love with a teenage girl and the two must go on the run from the law, moving from state to state. First thing we must address, is the fact that a 25-year-old gets involved in a relationship with a 15-year-old, this is asked more questions than it answers with just how wrong this is. With the two lovers on the run from the law, it does show the rebellious ways of the younger generation through America and just how far they would go to escape what is going to be a slow future. It does have a nice happy feel to everything, despite the darker tone of everything happening.

CrimeThe crime side of the film follows Kit start from just being somebody who might steal the odd thing, before turning into a cold-blooded killer that isn’t going to stop for anyone.

SettingsThe film takes us through the southern states of America, showing how the open round could offer freedoms the pair want.


Scene of the Movie – The treehouse.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t seem to have any charges for taking a minor across state lines.

Final Thoughts This is a nice crime story about two lovers, even though it does have a big creepy side to it, when you look into the ages of the two main characters.

Overall: Love and Crime.

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