When we screened the movie “Forsaken” it was with excitement and fear… first for me, Westerns are sacred, they were films that I’d watch with my dad who has since passed away but had such a love for the genre. The showdown, that big gun fight, when good triumphed over bad and you cheered when it was over. But I was also worried there would be too much cleaning up or modernizing the film for today’s audiences.
Thankfully, I was wrong… Jon Cassar has made a beautifully shot film that will excite lovers of westerns around the world.
Yes, I love westerns, it’s in my genes, cause that’s what happens when your grandfather runs away at 16 to be a cowboy and ends up in Tom Mix movies. You end up reserving a part of your heart for this genre and are protective of it…
The feel of this film is authentic, it’s like a tribute to westerns from the past, reminding me of the dusty trails and riders on horses who run from trouble or go back home to find things have changed. It felt like it belonged to the past and it was like going home myself, to the frontier, back in the 1800’s.
In “Forsaken” you’re transported into the story of an ex-gunfighter, played by Kiefer Sutherland who goes home to see his father, a reverend, played by his real father Donald Sutherland. (Side note) You have to wonder why it’s taken so long to see them both together in a project like this one or any one… they are magnificent, their energy is real and touching.
Their dynamic in the film makes you want to yell, hug it out you two!
Coming home also breaks open past hearts that never really did mend… and Kiefer’s character stays true to himself, trying to stay out of trouble, even when we think he can end it but doesn’t. We meet his past love, played by Demi Moore, who is the woman who never got over him, and sadly, her husband, probably knew that going into their marriage as he shows her no trust or empathy.
This film has all the right elements, the bad guys are never just one, they are a gang, they have a benefactor who is a greedy politician in town and then there are the towns people who cannot fight back or they will die in the streets.
As mentioned above, this film has the true feeling of a western from the past… there’s nothing fancy about a Western except for the sound of boots on those wooden floors with the spurs clacking and the sound of the gun fight or bar fight with bottles breaking and tables getting over turned in a Saloon. What brings this film to a different level is the pairing of Kiefer and Donald, it’s almost like they are acting out their real relationship but in a different time with the fallout from the Civil War creating a riff they both want to fix but cannot because of their own personal grief and they are men… (yes, this is written from a woman’s POV.)
In the end, the amount of trouble the town is experiencing from this gang and the machinations of the top bad guy played by Brian Cox gets maddening because you want Kiefer to get those guns… but he really struggles and wants to get that family connection he needs with his father and we all understand that frustration.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it for you.
This is a movie that I wish I could have watched with my father so he could reminisce again about other westerns that he liked, even TV shows… oh, the list is a long one but somehow, I think he’s already watched “Forsaken” with me… and he liked it too.
Movie grade – A
In 1872, JOHN HENRY CLAYTON (Kiefer Sutherland) retires as a gunfighter and returns to his hometown of Fowler, Wyoming in hope of repairing his relationship with his estranged father, REVEREND CLAYTON (Donald Sutherland). However, he soon learns that the town is in turmoil, as the railroad will be coming through the area and a criminal gang is terrorizing ranchers who refuse to sell their land. John Henry is the only one who can stop them, but his father does not want his son to return to a life of violence.
- Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Brian Cox, Michael Wincott, Demi Moore, Aaron Poole
- Directed By Jon Cassar
- Written By Brad Mirman
You can watch Forsaken on demand on Amazon by clicking here or find it in a theater near you.
Photos Courtesy Redemption Productions for Forsaken