Avenging Angel (2007)
The Outlaw Preacher is a Pale Bounty Hunter
Whilst William Sims Myers may have written "Avenging Angel" if you know your westerns you can't but help notice a few similarities mainly that it feels like two Clint Eastwood westerns combined. It starts with a bit of "The Outlaw Josey Wales" as we watch a Preacher devastated by the murder of his wife and daughter, hitting the road looking for revenge by becoming a bounty hunter. And with this being a Preacher turned vigilante we then get a touch of "Pale Rider" as he ends up helping a group of settlers being tormented by the same gang who murdered his family. As such it would be fair to say that "Avenging Angel" doesn't really deliver a new storyline but for a TV movie it works, it entertains even if there are absolutely no surprises as it and Kevin Sorbo takes us from one western cliche to the next.
When his wife and daughter are cruelly murdered by a group of cowboys chasing settlers off of land owned by Colonel Cusack (Wings Hauser), Preacher (Kevin Sorbo - Prairie Fever) hits the road and becomes a Bounty Hunter in an attempt to satisfy his desire for revenge. A couple of years later Preacher finds himself back in the town he left, a town which has changed and no one recognizes him, even Sheriff Quinn (Nick Chinlund - Tears of the Sun) who was the man who ordered the murder of his family. Biding his time Preacher not only finds himself becoming close to Maggie (Cynthia Watros) and her daughter Amelia (Joey King) who take care of him when he ends up in a bar room brawl but he also finds himself trying to help a group of settlers who are being hounded by Cusack, Quinn and his gang of hired guns.
So as already pointed out "Avenging Angel" feels like a couple of ideas from Eastwood's westerns thrown together to make a story of a Preacher looking for revenge. It's not just Eastwood's westerns which it feels like it has drawn upon because quite frankly this is a stock western story, with stock western characters and for the most stock western action. But whilst this tale of Preacher, yes that is all he is known by, seeking revenge, finding love and helping the innocent settlers fight off the evil land owner and his cowboys it is entertaining. Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with this storyline and could easily have been used in a bigger budget western with few changes.
But whilst there is nothing fundamentally wrong with "Avenging Angel" it does suffer because it is all very obvious. From the minute we see Quinn order for the church to be blown up and in doing so killing The Preacher's family you know at some point in the future these two will face each other in a moment of action. And in a similar way when Preacher meets Maggie and her daughter Amelia you know they are going to end up taking the place of the family he lost. Basically "Avenging Angel" is one of those westerns where you can miss chunks and not really miss anything.
Now "Avenging Angel" is one of those TV westerns which director David S. Cass Sr. has made and to be honest is one of his most enjoyable. It is obvious that he hasn't had a big budget to use and so the action is short both in how long each action scene takes but also how much there is. But it actually makes it more interesting because this never just becomes a melee of gun fire, but a question of whether or not the Preacher will finally act out. Not that the action is less impressive as some of the quick moments of stunt work is good even if it is edited in such away that you can see how it is done.
But the thing which makes "Avenging Angel" work is Kevin Sorbo because he delivers a character who we can champion. And ironically it has to be said that The Preacher is not the best written character but you do feel for him, you gain pleasure from when he meets Maggie and are drawn close to the edge of your seat when he comes face to face with the evil Quinn once again. In fact Kevin Sorbo is the only really decent performance in the movie with other actors occasionally over playing their parts but more often struggling to bring these 2 dimensional stereotypes to life.
What this all boils down to is that "Avenging Angel" is basically just another TV western which employs various ideas and characters found in bigger westerns. But it is entertaining, it does have a certain atmosphere about it and much of that is down to a solid performance from Kevin Sorbo who without meaning to sound derogatory is basically giving us the TV western version of Clint Eastwood.
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