The Will of the Old Western
As a boy James (Justin Ament) witnessed town drunk and bully Will Tunney (Angus Macfadyen) murder his preacher father in broad daylight and yet still get away with it due to his buddies claiming he did so in self-defence. It leads to James leaving the town of Legend, New Mexico and do a lot of growing up whilst tormented by the nightmare of Will Tunney goading him. Having witnessed every kind of violence during the Civil War and having become a notorious bounty hunter who is happy to bring in people dead rather than alive he decides it is time to return to Legend and get his revenge on Tunney. But in the many years he has been gone Tunney is no longer a drunk as he has cleaned himself up and is now the mayor of Legend, a dangerous man who has the town in his pocket and is obsessed with Mary (Marnie Alton) who was young James's girlfriend of sorts. The question is will James kill the man who killed his father or will his father's Christian teachings return and his love of Mary make him want otherwise.
"Shadowheart" which also goes by the name of "Age of the Gunslinger" is the sort of western which will disappoint a lot of people to the point that some people might even get angry over it. And there are a lot of reasons for why it could anger and disappoint some audiences as it has a story which has been told so many times that to tell it again seems a waste of people's time as we have the son returning home to get revenge for the murder he witnessed as a child. There is nothing new added to this familiar scenario as elements such as the bad guy being sweet on the good guys girl and the bad guy being in control of the town are all staples of the western genre as is the good guy conflicted by his feeling for revenge over what his father taught him.
Now adding to that possible disappointment is that this has that low budget look of the recent crop of made for TV westerns where everything looks dusty yet also looks remarkably clean. Basically "Shadowheart" has that issue of many a modern western when it comes to authenticity which extends to many a character as putting an actor in old style clothes doesn't make them look like they have lived the tough life of the West. I wouldn't go as far as to say that "Shadowheart" is too pretty but when I say that most of the actors look like they moisturize every day you will get my gist as to what is wrong with the movie's look.
But all along I have said that "Shadowheart" will disappoint some people but at the same time it will entertain others, the sort of audience who want to watch westerns but not feel like they have to concentrate on what is going on or have to deal with graphic violence. As such for that sort of audience there is Angus Macfadyen who as Will Tunney delivers an entertaining performance as it is over the top but at the same time he brings to it the sense of a powerful man who is clever and has influence but is still a bit of a hick.
What this all boils down to is that "Shadowheart" is a western which is made for a very specific sort of western fan, the sort which don't need realism or grit, just simple to follow western entertainment. But as such if you stumble across "Shadowheart" and expect something gritty and realistic you are likely to be seriously disappointed.