Hallmark gets maximum promotional hay out of casting Brendan Wayne — in what amounts to a cameo — in “Angel and the Badman,” this remake of his grandfather John Wayne’s 1947 Western. Other than that footnote, alas, there’s precious little reason to sit through this slow-moving oater, other than the camp allure of seeing Luke Perry snarling dialogue under an oversized eye patch. Those unfamiliar with the original will be struck by the plot’s echoes of “Witness,” though quality-wise, any similarity ends there.
Lou Diamond Phillips perhaps understandably took refuge on “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” after lensing his starring turn as Quirt Evans, a gunslinger whose reputation is such that every time someone says his name, other tough desperados look as if they’re about to pass a kidney stone.
Quirt catches a bullet during an opening shootout — and try to savor that sequence, because it’s the last action for a very long time. Wounded, he hides out with a family of Quakers, and instantly begins making eyes at the grown daughter Temperance (Deborah Kara Unger) in a relationship that skips several steps by going from near-coma to romantic Quaker familiarities (like calling her “thou”) in zero to 60.
Meanwhile, Quirt seems to have a fight brewing with bad guy Loredo (Perry) and his cronies — unless he opts to lay down his gun and buy into Temperance and her clan’s peace-loving ways.
Directed by Terry Ingram from producer Jack Nasser’s lethargic script, “Badman’s” biggest problem involves how poorly the Quirt-Temperance connection develops — a central element not helped by Unger’s drowsy performance, which seems less devout than drugged. Nor does the story really build toward much of anything, instead simply killing time until Loredo shows up to complicate matters, setting up a potential showdown.
Thanks to Hallmark’s older audience, Westerns represent a good strategic fit for the basic cabler, and more are happily on the way. Let’s just hope that most of them have more to recommend them than “Angel and the Badman,” where beyond the peripheral link to the Duke, about all one can say is, “It’s bad, man.”