EIFF 2016: Forsaken
I almost couldn’t contain my excitement when I heard about a Western starring both Kiefer Sutherland, his father Donald, Brian Cox, AND Michael Wincott. Okay, it also starred Demi Moore, but you can’t have everything. And it was entirely possible that she had actually decided to take up acting at this later stage in her career (spoiler . . . . . . . . she hasn’t).
Directed by Jon Cassar, working from a script by Brad Mirman, the father and son acting team here play father and son, unsurprisingly. Kiefer has been away for a long, long time. His father, a reverend in a small Western town, doesn’t appreciate how he has spent most of his adult years. That should be forgotten, however, as the son tries to make up with his father, and also declares that he no longer wishes to use guns again. But we’ve all heard that one before.
Although there’s some decent acting on display here, especially in a scene that has Kiefer Sutherland emotionally confessing to his father just what made him want to rid his life of guns and killing, there’s very little else to recommend it. That’s not to say that Forsaken is bad. It looks alright, although many scenes feel slightly darker than they should be, and things build to a satisfying climax. Cox and WIncott are both very good as people who may end up causing the ex-gunslinger to reluctantly arm himself again.
But even that last sentence highlights what is really wrong with the film. It’s not just familiar stuff. It’s a veritable checklist of Western movie tropes. The gunslinger not wanting to kill any more. The lost love who went to the arms of another while our hero was absent. The local gang who get more and more confident as they make more and more progress for their boss. The moments in which some violent incident occurs while others just look on, powerless. Even the gunfights feel well-worn and tired. Anyone wanting to leave being given the option to do so? Check. First shot followed by a quick flurry of bullets? Check. The dive over the bar counter? Check. You get the picture.
I keep saying that originality isn’t always the most valuable commodity in a film, if things are at least given enough energy, or a new spin, to make it all entertaining enough. Forsaken doesn’t do that. Which is a great shame, especially as it wastes a fantastic performance from Wincott, who we don’t see often enough in roles this good.
Forsaken is showing at 2045 on 20th June, and 1300 on 25th June, both screenings in Odeon 2.
DIRECTOR: JON CASSAR
WRITER: BRAD MIRMAN
STARS: KIEFER SUTHERLAND, DONALD SUTHERLAND, BRIAN COX, DEMI MOORE, MICHAEL WINCOTT
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX