This is essentially director/star Clint Eastwood's take on the western classic Shane.
Set in Northern California in the late 1880s, this film follows a group of independent pan miners who are terrorized by the corrupt and wealthy mining baron of a hydraulic mining operation and his vicious minions who want complete control of the area, and aren't fond of any kind of competition.
Following a particularly devastating attack in which her dog is among those that get slaughtered, a young girl prays for a miracle, which shortly thereafter comes in the form of a mysterious stranger who rides a pale horse, and, due to wearing a clerical collar, becomes known simply as The Preacher. The Preacher soon makes it his mission to help the miners stand up for themselves, and take down the ruthless thugs that want to wipe them out.
Yeah, the basic plot of this is nothing new, but it's done with a decent amount of style. I also liked that this film was really heavy on religious themes and overtones, and came off like a westernized take on a classic biblical epic.
Not much is known about The Preacher, and over the course of the film this remains consistent, which gives a nice amount of ambiguity, and provokes thoughts of mythical and otherworldly proportions. SOme might think this is hokey, but it didn't bother me. I'm all for straightforward mysterious strangers who come to complete a mission, then call it a day once it's done.
Eastwood is his typical self here in the lead, and to support him are a solid cast that includes Chris Penn, Richard Dysart, Richard Kiel, Sydney Penny, Carrie Snodgress, and Doug McGrath.
The film has a nice look, is suitably gritty and stark when needed, and delivers the goods without any excess sidetracking. Like I said, it's nothing really knew, but it's still done quite well, so I say give it a look. Of the three westerns Eastwood made from 1976-1992, this one is the least of the three, but is still an okay film in its own right.