Armed with some outstanding veteran actors, this western has an old-time tone to it: good guys vs. bad guys, some gunplay, and even a bit of romance. Led by Bailey Chase’s performance as the hero of the story, Hunter Braddock, the film also features Bruce Boxleitner, Martin Kove, Nancy Stafford, and Don Most.
Braddock served in the Civil War and when he saw innocent Native Americans, including a young girl, shot at, he decided to leave. He wound up serving time in prison, but he’s just been released. He returns to his in-laws, Ben (Boxleitner), and his wife, Alma (Stafford). The Watkins have been raising his son Luke and daughter Adele ever since Braddock’s wife died. He will have to win his father-in-law over, as Ben doesn’t know the story behind Braddock’s imprisonment. Braddock also wishes to establish a relationship with his children.
Sprinkled throughout the plot of ambushes and evil designs on the innocent, scripture is quoted, such as the passage from Isaiah that God will do a new thing (Isaiah 43:19). Braddock will have his hands full as he retains his integrity, fighting against a corrupt sheriff, Sheriff King (Chris Mulkey), and his deputy, named Fisher (David Gridley). Don Most (Ralph Malph from Happy Days) plays local store owner Chester Tilley, and he seems to not fully support Braddock. Braddock knows that the Native American, Chaska (Jeremy Gauna), being held in jail, is innocent of wrongdoing, but Tilley is in favor of “stringing him up.”
Braddock’s children and the memory of his wife give him the strength to fight against the evildoers in this film. Braddock visits his wife’s grave and on her headstone are the words: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Braddock’s son Luke (Lev Cameron) is slow to open up to his father, but Braddock’s daughter Adele (Livi Birch) welcomes him with open arms, especially after she sees her father eyeing the town’s schoolteacher, Lily Rayne (Amanda Righetti), whom Adele likes.
But with savage attacks in Far Haven, including the abduction of the teacher, Lily Rayne, Hunter Braddock will have his hands full in trying to bring peace to the local townspeople. Especially after his father-in-law Ben has to recover from an attack. When Luke’s son gets into a fight over his father who’s been called a coward, Luke proceeds to tell him he hates him and that he wishes he would have died instead of his mother. Yes, harsh words but Braddock continues to work through the problems, trying to establish himself as a caring man who only quit the war due to the mistreatment of the Native Americans, and the killing of both women and children.
There are things to think about when it comes to viewing the movie, especially considering the age of children who would view it. There are flashbacks of war with shootings and people are killed. And there are ambushes and people shot with both arrows and guns. On the other hand, the need to lean on the Lord is a theme, along with various scriptures that are quoted. Also, the theme of forgiveness is nicely developed.
Other various themes such as the need to read, to learn, and to stay out of trouble are nicely featured in the film. The viewer will wonder how it will all wrap up. Will the kidnapped teacher, Miss Lily, be rescued? Will the corrupt sheriff and his deputy be stopped? And will Braddock find peace and bring peace to Far Haven? Utilizing a powerful score by composer Tom Gire, not to mention some outdoor cinematography which is breathtaking, this Western has a lot to like. Yes, it features some typical saloon scenes and fights, but it also incorporates some nice character development and the experience of top-notch actors. This film has deservedly secured our Dove seal for Ages 12+.
THE DOVE TAKE: This film features many possible discussion moments as it focuses on the young, middle-aged, and older citizens, and how each can take away from or add to society and it is a good film for kids 12 and over to share with their parents.