Powers Boothe surfaces as a contemporary one-eyed gambler named Preacher who answers a call from a friend in fictional Farewell, Texas, and finds murder. Tough, determined Preacher wades through outsize hokum to get at the truth; it's not worth the trip.

Powers Boothe surfaces as a contemporary one-eyed gambler named Preacher who answers a call from a friend in fictional Farewell, Texas, and finds murder. Tough, determined Preacher wades through outsize hokum to get at the truth; it’s not worth the trip.

Rene Auberjonois summons Boothe to help find out why and how a local friend, onetime buddy of Boothe’s, died in the crash of a chopper he owned in his South Texas business. Dead man’s sister Cindy Pickett, inheriting the 50,000-acre spread, believes her brother died accidentally, but Auberjonois and determined character M. Emmet Walsh, whose grandson beats up Preacher, aren’t so sure.

Local banker Terry O’Quinn has all sorts of handy answers, but it begins to look like O’Quinn wanted that land for himself. Preacher, nosing around, gets shot at, finds himself being rammed on the highway by an unknown driver, and even loses his brakes at a hefty speed (how they’re fixed isn’t explained). He gets back by smashing people, lancing the underside of a helicopter, and saying such archly colorful things as he’s strapped up “tighter than a tick’s toenail.”

The writing trips over its cliches as Preacher tries nabbing the killer. The miscast Boothe keeps his sang good and froid, but on such an actor it looks silly. Pickett hasn’t much to do, but she sticks it out– and gets a decent emoting scene towards the end. O’Quinn sustains his cool banker character throughout; if it’s any help, his is the best perf in the pedestrian production.

Writer Scobie Richardson tries applying classic Western formula to today’s ways–computers, oil, illegal aliens, choppers, Mustangs– but it doesn’t work here because the characters are flat, the action far-fetched, the resolution obvious.

Usa World Premiere Movie Wild Card

(Wed.(28), 9-11 p.m., USA)

Production

Filmed in and around L.A. by Davis Entertainment in association with MCA TV Entertainment. Exec producers, John Davis, Merrill Karpf; producer-director, Mel Damski; writer, Scobie Richardson, based on book "Preacher" by Ted Thackrey Jr..

Crew

Camera, Peter Mackay; editor, Mary Ann Brandon; sound, Peter Damski; music, W.G. Snuffy Walden; production designer, Mayling Cheng.

Cast

Cast: Powers Boothe, Cindy Pickett, Rene Auberjonois, Terry O'Quinn, John Lacy, M. Emmet Walsh, Don Hood, Michael Shaner, Jake Jacobs, Bert Remsen, Karen Machon, Royce D. Applegate, Kamala Lopez, Diane Delano, Anthony Schmidt, Jane Abbott, Joe Maggard.

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