Director: Jon Cassar
Writers: Brad Mirman, Tari
Stars: Esther Purves-Smith, Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland
Plot: In 1872, an embittered gunslinger named John Henry Clayton attempts to make amends with his estranged father Reverend Samuel Clayton while their community is besieged by ruthless land-grabbers.
Running Time: 90 Minutes
IMDB Score: 6.3
Why I Watched It: I’m a sucker for Westerns and sadly not many get made anymore so I’ll jump at one that looks half decent and the cast doesn’t hurt either.
Random Thoughts: Yes Kiefer Sutherland and Donald Sutherland have been in the same movie before but they’ve never played father and son and I guess this was the reason for the film, Kiefer got his old friend from 24 Jon Cassar to direct it and from what I heard Kiefer say in interviews the father and son had been looking for a film to do and settled on this Western, now Kiefer is no stranger to Westerns he did the Young Guns movies. I don’t get to review many current Westerns truly it’s a near dead genre, you get the odd ones and the ones we do get tend to be remakes, it’s too bad done well a Western is a s good as any genre and you can do anything inside a Western, drama, coming of age, and the cool thing about Westerns that on the surface it’s a simple genre but the best have all kinds of subtext and weight to them.
What I Liked: This is an old school Western no doubt about it but what I liked is that at it’s heart it’s a story about a man not only coming to terms with who he is and what he’s done but what it’s cost him and the main thing is trying to reconnect with his father. I think what Forsaken does very well is that this isn’t a coming of age drama, it’s not about a man proving something to his father it’s a bout a man who’s older who’s realised he’s thrown away his family and he has a real desire to get it back as an adult. Sure it helps that this is a real father and son it also helps both are very good actors and the film lets both of them shine, now forsaken is a cliched Western but the story of the father and son isn’t cause it doesn’t go where you think it’s going to go. Kiefer plays a man who went off to war and it changed him to the point where he became a man who lived off killing and cause of that he never came back to his family or the women he loved. The film is full of melodrama but it’s pretty good, seeing Donald and Kiefer go toe to toe is great and cause of the respect there’s give and take there isn’t a good guy and bad guy there both are right and both are wrong. We get to see them fight and we also see that both are fleshed out and complicated characters.
The other hi-light for me is Michael Wincott, he’s a veteran Canadian character actor who in my mind is so underrated and underused here he gets a great character and he gets to shine. His character reminds me of the one Christoper George played in El Dorado, he’s a gunslinger, or a gun for hire if you will but he’s not evil, actually he’s one of the most likeable character in the movie. Wincott is known for playing bad guys and once I saw him I’m like here we go again but he doesn’t he plays a man who will kill but only if he has to, he’s someone who has clearly come to terms with who he is and what he does. He takes a stock character and twists him, he’s part of a gang trying to force people to sell their land, their homes, farms but he tries to reason with them and he has a really good speech telling a farmer the true meaning of land, that it won’t look after his family, it won’t protect them he could by other land, it goes badly but oddly not because of Wincott. Wincott and Kiefer are very good together they only have a few scenes but it’s cool seeing these two deadly men who have respect for each other and an odd kinship.
The other clever thing is that we have a group of bad guys and of course Brian Cox is the big bad but Wincott stays away from playing the moustache twirling Western cliched character. It was a fresh take and a good performance. A little shout out to Demi Moore, she’s good here and again stays away from playing a cliche, her and Kiefer were in love he never came back, she’s married and remains with her husband but there’s still a connection between her and her lost love.
What I Didn’t Like: Now we get to the cliched part and there’s three things that are very cliched Brian Cox as the bad guy, first of all this is the stock rich evil guy forcing and killing people to give up their land and you add to the fact that this stock villain is played by Brian Cox, is there a thing to be a double cliche, he’s played this guy a ton before and it comes off as tired, he’s not bad but it would have helped to have gotten someone maybe against type. Aaron Poole has the main gunman/thug gives a bad performance, he’s been good in other things but he comes off as over the top bad and like he’s close to growling, it doesn’t help he’s playing off Kiefer and Wincott who are underplaying so he seems more over the top, he’s in a different movie.
The last nitpick about cliches is the main story of the land barren taking land, they do nothing to twist this up, except Wincott’s character but so many of the scenes with Poole and Cox feel like they’ve been cut and paste from over Westerns.
Final Thoughts: I really liked it, I recommend it especially if you’re fans of the Sutherlands and Westerns, it’s a well acted and solid film.