Picks and Pans Review: The Avenging Angel

updated 01/23/1995 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/23/1995 01:00AM

TNT (Sun., Jan. 22, 8 p.m. ET)

B+

Two decades have passed since Brigham Young led his sect to the Deseret Valley in Utah, and the Mormons have made the wilderness bloom. But now outsiders are swarming to the shores of the Great Salt Lake to share in the bounty, and the faithful are splintering between those who would welcome the outsiders and the virulent separatists who want them kept out.

The schism leads to an attempt on the life of Young, the Prophet himself (a familiar role for Charlton Heston). Handling muscle for the church is a big, strapping man (Tom Berenger), a sort of Latter-day Enforcer. Berenger foils the assassination attempt but stumbles into a widening conspiracy.

Using historical characters, this fictional western creates a provocative concoction with this Mormon mystery and its gunmen for God. Murder! Polygamy! Treachery! Passion! Religious fanaticism! The mood dwells somewhere between the Old Testament and the Weekly World News.

The movie's one flaw is that the plot is rather dense and hard to follow. Kevin Tighe, Jeffrey Jones and James Coburn costar.

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