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Review: Forsaken

Forsaken
02.17.2016
6 10

PLOT: A notorious gunfighter (Kiefer Sutherland) returns home to his preacher father (Donald Sutherland) and attempts to leave his violent past behind him, only to be drawn into a violent land-grab scheme.

REVIEW: FORSAKEN should be familiar fare to anyone with even a light knowledge of classic-era Hollywood westerns. Highly indebted to SHANE, this is nonetheless a fun chance to see Kiefer Sutherland in a non-24 action role, with him strapping-on his six-shooters for the first time since YOUNG GUNS 2.

A low-budget, Canadian production, FORSAKEN is most noteworthy in that it teams Sutherland with his equally famous father, Donald Sutherland, for the first time on-screen (although they both appeared – separate from each other – in MAX DUGAN RETURNS & A TIME TO KILL). While a very modest production, FORSAKEN benefits from solid direction by Kiefer's frequent 24 director Jon Cassar, and an excellent, high-profile supporting cast.

Sutherland makes for a good western hero, with his gravelly voice and weathered features, giving the character a sense of world-weariness that compares well to the icons the character is drawn from. It's fun that he plays his hero, John Henry Clayton, as more in the Alan Ladd/Henry Fonda mould than the too-often imitated Clint Eastwood, making him seem like on of the few contemporary actors with a real feel for the genre's history (for the first sixty years of cinema history it was the predominant genre).

His chemistry with his dad, Donald, feels authentic giving their frayed relationship more depth than it might have had otherwise. The older Sutherland's conflict over having his son home versus his religious outrage at the fact that he lived as a gunfighter comes-off as somewhat typical of the genre, but it works on the merits of the performances.

The two Sutherlands are backed up by a top-notch ensemble, led by the always dependable Brian Cox, who plays the gang boss looking to snatch-up everyone's land. Demi Moore is on-board as Kiefer's one-time lover, the girl he left behind to fight in the Civil War and never returned to. The fact that they have some shared history, having been contemporaries in the eighties (and co-stars in A FEW GOOD MEN) gives their scenes together some gravitas – similar to what the two Sutherlands share.

Faring the best of all of them is Michael Wincott, who co-starred with Kiefer in the Disney version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS (and on 24). He gets his best role in years as gentleman gunfighter employed by the baddies and well-versed with Clayton's gunfighting past, giving them a friendly rivalry that resolves itself in a unique way. Wincott's always one of those guys that makes a huge impression no matter what the role, and it's great to see him used so well here.

FORSAKEN is ultimately a simple western tale told in a straightforward way, and while it's predictable in that you know from the first frame exactly how it's going to pan out (does anyone really think Kiefer won't come to the townfolks' aid?) it's still a solid little western. It's interesting that microbudget westerns are becoming a thing, with this, BONE TOMAHAWK, OUTLAWS AND ANGELS, and Ti West's upcoming IN THE VALLEY OF VIOLENCE all showing there's still a market for this kind of story. FORSAKEN is a modest but well-assembled little oater and a solid vehicle for Kiefer Sutherland and his dad.

Source: JoBlo.com

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