'Little Children'

Anchoring Hallmark's "Western Month," "Avenging Angel" feels less written than simply stitched together from pieces of classic oaters, without stretching much meat over those old bones. As a preacher-turned-bounty hunter, Kevin Sorbo gets to wear more wardrobe than he did in his "Hercules" days, but the subpar dialogue, action and villain are all good reasons to avoid being touched by this "Angel."

Anchoring Hallmark’s “Western Month,” “Avenging Angel” feels less written than simply stitched together from pieces of classic oaters, without stretching much meat over those old bones. As a preacher-turned-bounty hunter, Kevin Sorbo gets to wear more wardrobe than he did in his “Hercules” days, but the subpar dialogue, action and villain are all good reasons to avoid being touched by this “Angel.”

Owing a debt to pics ranging from “Shane” to “Pale Rider,” this not-so-original movie introduces Sorbo as a preacher who watches his wife and child’s murder by the minions of land baron Col. Cusack (Wings Hauser), headed by his snarling henchman Quinn (Nick Chinlund, adding to a lengthy resume of bad-guy roles). It’s enough to prompt the preacher — who vaguely references killing men in the war before donning the collar — to strap on a gun, seeking justice as a bounty hunter.

He soon runs into Quinn again, offering the chance to pursue vengeance and maybe even heal his own hardened heart, inasmuch as the preacher rents a room from a local single mom (Cynthia Watros) with her own checkered past.

Yep, it’s that kind of main-street-with-no-side-alleys town, and once director David S. Cass Sr. and writer William Sims Myers have trotted out all the players, nothing much happens. Yes, there are God-fearing settlers to defend from the colonel, but the preacher takes his sweet time doing anything before the inevitable, woefully anticlimactic showdown.

Sorbo and Watros are earnest enough with their underwritten parts, but the real weak links here are the thinly drawn heavies. All we know about the colonel is that he drinks imported cognac and, faced with “squatters” on his property, orders his cutthroats to “Kill ‘em all.”

Although they seldom turn up in theaters anymore, old Westerns are an enduring TV staple, as any weekend spent surfing the plains of cable illustrates. So while Hallmark is being savvy in creating this theme month, “Avenging Angel” doesn’t pack the horse power to be tasked with leading the charge.

Avenging Angel

Hallmark Channel Sat. July 7, 9 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Simi Valley, Calif., by Alpine Meiden in association with Larry Levinson Prods. and presented by RHI Entertainment. Executive producers, Levinson, Robert Halmi Jr.; co-executive producers, Nick Lombardo, Michael Moran; producers, Randy Pope, Lincoln Lageson; director, David S. Cass Sr.; writer, William Sims Myers.

Crew

Camera, Maximo Munzi; editor, Craig Bassett; production designer, Scott H. Campbell; casting, Penny Perry, Amy Reese. Running time: 120 MIN.

Cast

Preacher - Kevin Sorbo Maggie - Cynthia Watros Quinn - Nick Chinlund Billy - Richard Lee Jackson Cusack - Wings Hauser

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