Forsaken Blu-ray Review
John Henry Clayton rides through the hills and streams, the woods and the fields until he reaches his destination: a small, isolated ranch. When he gets closer, a dog on the porch barks, prompting an old bearded man to step out. “Your mother’s dead,” he says.
John Henry (Kiefer Sutherland, Paul W.S. Anderson’s POMPEII) has abandoned his lifestyle as a gunslinger to come see his father, William (Donald Sutherland, in his first movie since THE HUNGER GAMES series wrapped up). He expresses sorrow that he didn’t know his mother was ill, but his father makes it aware that he knows his boy wouldn’t have done much about it anyway.
When they ride into town, the site is cluttered with the expected facades and rough-looking cowboys. There are also Civil War vets, hobbling down the street to inform the viewers of the time period. In the bar, John Henry is confronted by a man (Aaron Poole, who had a small role in Atom Egoyn’s THE CAPTIVE) claiming he killed four men, hoping to get a rise out of the visitor. John Henry is reserved, brushing off the trap.
The trouble rises when he gets wind that a brutish heel named James McCurdy (Brian Cox, sports drama BELIEVE) has hired thugs to threaten families off of their property so he can buy it up and use it for profit. John Henry again tries not to get involved, but, well, that wouldn’t give Kiefer much to do in the movie other than speak in a chiseled voice that would sound right at home in Red Dead Redemption.
The initial draw of FORSAKEN would be to see both Kiefer and Donald, son and father, onscreen together (a first, although they shared credits on previous movies). After that, FORSAKEN is about as thrilling as its title.
FORSAKEN has absolutely zero in it that any casual western fan hasn’t seen before: themes of redemption and loss are present for the duration, anticipated questions of morals are raised heavily and characters both good and bad are recycled caricatures. There is even a local who points a gun at some baddies and says, “Get off my land!”
Written by Brad Mirman (2011’s THE CONFESSION, which also starred the younger Sutherland) and directed by Jon Cassar (who previously directed more than a quarter of 24’s episodes, plus half of 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY’s and the TV movie 24: REDEMPTION), FORSAKEN is a thoughtless effort that comes off like the cast and crew got together and threw up together just about anything they had seen before in movie and TV westerns because they found out they had access to the set.
What makes FORSAKEN stand out even more as being remarkably lazy is that there have been a number of excellent westerns released over the past few years—THE HATEFUL EIGHT, BONE TOMAHAWK and THE HOMESMAN come to mind—that have done their part to bring something fresh to the genre. FORSAKEN has only ridden a dead horse into town.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This transfer has an overall flat look and a limited color range. Still, details are occasionally good and show off the wear in the characters’ faces.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English. Dialogue is clear and the gunshots come through nicely.
Making-Of Featurette (11:32): This featurette looks at the plot, cast, characters and more.