Rated: R for violence and some language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: February 19, 2016 Released by:
An enervating, modestly produced cinematic oater is typical of a classic genre - going for Shane more than Unforgiven and reunites father and son Donald and Kiefer (Pompeii, Melancholia) Sutherland (seen separately in the John Grisham adaptation A Time To Kill).
Forsaken is indebted to what the template of the genre is - Kiefer's John Henry Clayton being the linchpin in returning to his hometown after the Civil War and losing his gunslinging ways. He'll try to repair much damage to his relationship with preacher/rancher dad William (Donald - in stern, patriarchal mode, perhaps a cousin to Pres. Snow opposite Katniss Everdeen) not so happy to tell his son his wife died calling out his name.
The once feared shootist will help out on the farm per Ma's request and try and remain neutral when it comes to a venal land baron (spiced up by Brian Cox) planning a new railroad and the angry townsfolk. Of course, like a Michael Corleone, a reconciliatory John Henry becomes impelled to do what lost him his beloved Mary Alice (Demi Moore, who played opposite Sutherland in Rob Reiner's hit courtroom drama A Few Good Men). John Henry still carries a torch for her while the hired gun against the townsfolk, Michael Wincott's dapper Dave has a past with the embattled Civil War vet.
Maybe Jon Cassar (who's directed Kiefer on the hit small-screen 24) doesn't make the most of the western Canadian locales for leisurely pacing and predictable storytelling from Brad Mirman that doesn't earn silver-screen status. But, it's well-assembled, particularly from the casting standpoint that lets the 'younger' Sutherland harken back to his Young Guns 2 more youthful days (he enjoys being on those steeds). It's good to see this famous familial pairing clash and confide even if the interplay appears off-kilter at times. Wincott (Along Came a Spider, Strange Days) suavely simmers with the material most satisfyingly while Moore is mostly window dressing.
If Forsaken becomes too stolid and hackneyed after awhile as a beating and death ensues, at least Cassar has some flair for a violent, old-style clash that lets Jack Bauer get it on in a way which doesn't abandon an Old West trope with a lurid, if exciting showdown. Maybe just in time to shed too much nostalgic dust that John Ford would have crystallized more vibrantly and persuasively for an Alan Ladd or Henry Fonda.
|Forsaken - 2016||C||C|