Donald Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland are both fantastic actors. The father and the son, respectively, have carved out two generations of careers that have titillated our lives. Of course, we know them best for their villainous roles (between The Hunger Games and The Lost Boys, they have scared many generations in many different ways,) but they have rich and plentiful movies and television series that have made The Sutherland’s a household name.
And now they’ve teamed up for a brand new Western!
Forsaken revolves around gunslinger John Henry Clayton who has retired from the craft of putting holes into other people and returns to his hometown of Fowler, Wyoming. In an attempt to rekindle his lost relationship with Reverend Clayton, John learns that his town is in turmoil as a business man and his criminal gang are terrorising residents to sell their property. John is the only one who can stop them but his father is staunchly against it. Can the town of Fowler be saved?
The interesting thing about Forsaken is that it hasn’t curtailed to an overlong runtime like other modern Westerns do. In fact, the pacing isn’t this usual drawl that commands your very attention until your eyelids cannot take anymore. The brisk runtime skips merrily along. For many who are so sick of this Tarantino-esque need for no speed and copious amounts of bloodshed, then you’ll be happy that the runtime is exactly an hour and a half including credits. As much as that’s a positive element to the film, it also impacts the story because it feels more like a lengthy episode of Deadwood than a visceral film.
You can do both – extrapolate a period film and all its emotions in a short amount of time but for Jon Cassar’s drama, it feels as though they are squeezing in too much backstory, emotion and action into the film. You will look away for two seconds, and an important character has died and Kiefer Sutherland has uncovered a deep-rooted childhood trauma as you sit there going; “Wait, hold up, I literally just sneezed.” The movie could just use some lingering and some penance before rushing onto the next scene as though this were a teenage truncated version of There Will Be Blood. There is no stillness or pause, just a rolling narrative.
Regardless of this abrupt melodrama piece, Forsaken is lucky to have a collection of fantastic actors at the core of it. If you need a father and son relationship to feel real, then you enlist a father and son to portray it. The Sutherland’s should really do more movies together, having only two others beforehand (and, blimey, they weren’t even related in those films then!) So you can imagine that their scenes together are filled with realistic emotion carving into their relationship and broiling with tension. The pair, despite having to skim over a lot about their relationship, work terrifically together and you can see the familial bonds and talent shining through.
Forsaken shall live up to its name as you roll onto the next under-budgeted Western film. Which is the biggest shame here because it’s such a waste of the pair of Sutherland’s. There’s also Brian Cox waddling along all villain-like which is always such a wonderful pleasure. However, unmemorable and underwhelming, Forsaken speeds by into the realm of the forgettable.
Just. Don’t sneeze.
FORSAKEN IS OUT ON DVD & BLU-RAY NOW