CAPSULE: In a Western set in 1872 Wyoming, and much in the style of SHANE, a famous gunfighter and his minister father have to repair their relationship and stand up together against a land grabber. For the first time father Donald and son Kiefer Sutherland play a father and son in the traditional Western directed by Jon Cassar. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
The Western film is a genre that keeps threatening to die out, but it is still with us after many years. Every year there are at least two or three Westerns released and there are some fans who look forward to them every year. Watching a Western like FORSAKEN is a little like sitting down to a plate of macaroni and cheese. We know what we are going to get with very few surprises. This is a film made in the mold of SHANE and perhaps PALE RIDER. There are also touches such as the dour one-word title, not unlike UNFORGIVEN. So seen from a distance FORSAKEN is a familiar plot. We have our bad guy, James McCurdy (played by the great Brian Cox) who is trying to buy up all the local land and chase out the poor, weak homesteaders. Does he want to have a huge ranch? Is the railroad coming through paying a high price for land? Has some valuable mineral been found on the land? I do not believe we ever find out why he wants the land, but does it really matter? His motive is the first cousin to a MacGuffin.
The film takes place in 1872 Wyoming. Our main character is the now infamous gunfighter John Henry Clayton (Kiefer Sutherland). He fought in the Civil War, all the time dreaming of returning home marrying his sweetheart Mary-Alice Watson (Demi Moore). But seven years ago after he was discharged from the army he found himself in a fight and discovered he was really good at killing. After seven years he has a notorious reputation and is only now returning to his home. There he is met by his father, a minister played by Donald Sutherland. The father and son Sutherlands play the father and son Claytons. (This is the first time they have played together as father and son.) The Reverend Clayton cannot forgive his son for ignoring his religion and going into a life of killing. True to form our plot rises to the expected climax with a lot of shooting and killing. Acting honors, if there really are any, go to Michael Wincott as Dave Turner, a well-educated and intelligent gunfighter in the cast of Johnny Ringo in TOMBSTONE.
Standing in for Wyoming are the rocky hills of Alberta Canada. The film is directed by Jon Cassar from a screenplay by Brad Mirman. Cassar had directed Kiefer before on the TV series "24". The two Sutherlands obviously know each other well and do a fair job playing off each other.
FORSAKEN does not bring much that is new to the Western, but it is nice that it brings a Western at all. I rate FORSAKEN a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2271563/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/forsaken_2016/
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper