A Lone Diamond
I won't lie "Lone Rider" is not a good western but it is what you expect from a modern western which was made for TV. As such it is nothing more that a collection of western genre cliches from the young man returning home to find a local businessman forcefully buying up land to the businessman putting pressure on his family. Add to that a cliche romantic storyline, cliche characters, an element of judicial corruption, some mean looking heavies and basically it is no surprise that other than couple of minor skirmishes everything in "Lone Rider" builds to a predictable final show down. Basically if you prefer your westerns to have grit and depth then "Lone Rider" will border on being poor where as if you don't mind modern TV westerns which are easy to follow and overly sentimental then you may enjoy it.
Having retired from the army as a decorated Major, Bobby Hattaway (Lou Diamond Phillips - Termination Point) heads home to take his place in the family business. But when he reaches home he finds things have changed and that the family business is struggling thanks to his childhood friend Stu Croker (Vincent Spano - Her Fatal Flaw) who is forcefully buying up land and properties in and around the town. And Stu wants the Hattaway land and will stop at nothing to get it but Bobby plans otherwise especially when his army buddy Mike (Tom Schanley) shows up to help him out.
So as already pointed out "Lone Rider" is little more than a collection of western cliches and they start with the storyline of Bobby Hattaway having retired from the army to head home and help with the family business where upon he discovers that his old friend Stu Croker has turned into a nasty businessman. It is one of the most over used storylines, that of a businessman bullying locals of their land and out of there businesses and there is nothing added in "Lone Rider" to make it any more interesting. In fact it ends up a very weak storyline as there is no real motive for why Croker is buying up land and is desperate to own the Hattaway land.
Even subplots end up failing to add anything more to this basic storyline, often feeling like they have been thrown in because they have been used in other westerns. So the fact that Bobby's former girlfriend is married to Croker doesn't really build into anything other than the expected, as in she still loves Bobby which makes Croker jealous. And there is the question as to whether the town sheriff is in Croker's pocket as he always seems to side with him. Even the fact that Bobby and Croker were once best friends fails to make this conflict any more interesting.
What does this mean, well it means that we go through a lot of text book western cliches from Croker murdering people to Bobby becoming more and more angry till eventually we get the inevitable showdown. And in a way, and I am clutching at straws here, we get the only real interesting bit as Bobby's old army buddy Mike shows up to help out with the battle. As such basically everything in "Lone Rider" builds to the big cliche showdown as Bobby and his small group of friends take on Croker. But because everything is so thin there is no depth to this, no real emotion when it comes to whether Bobby can bring himself to kill a one time friend.
Like with everything else about "Lone Rider" the characters are just a bunch of cliches but what is worse they are all incredibly flat. As such whilst we have the likes of Lou Diamond Phillips, Stacey Keach and Vincent Spano as well as Mike Starr none of them shine. In fact every one of these actors seems to be just going through the motions delivering their lines, act a little moody but not getting beneath the surface of their characters and as such it adds to what is a very shallow experience.
What this all boils down to is that "Lone Rider" is very typical of your modern made for TV western. It basically works its way through a collection of cliches but never once tries to be anything more than easy to follow, aka predictable. It's not terrible but it is struggling to be average especially as there are some really good TV westerns out there if you look for them.