'Thunderheart'

Directed by Michael Apted, this 1992 release is a kind of spiritual thriller, a moderately diverting programmer in which a predictable shoot-'em-up plot is slickly intertwined with Native American religious customs and beliefs. Although the film tends to take itself too seriously, it is enlivened by some appealing acting and vivid camera work that saves it from the abyss. Inspired by the controversial arrest and imprisonment of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, it stars Val Kilmer (left) as an FBI operative, Sam Shepard (right) as his formidable superior, John Trudell as Peltier, Walter Crow Horse as a tribal police officer and John Fusco as a wily tribal elder. Interestingly, Apted also made "Incident at Oglala," a documentary on Peltier (Showtime Sunday at 8 p.m.).

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