After watching Old Henry, I decided to hop on Amazon and buy a copy of the blu-ray. In the process of buying the film, I ran across Forsaken on blu-ray for seven dollars. This is a Western that has been on my list to watch for a few years now, so I decided to add it to my cart as well.
Forsaken stars Donald and Kiefer Sutherland, real life father and son portraying a fictional father and son. The two shared scenes together on Kiefer’s screen debut Max Dugan Returns and both starred in A Time to Kill, however they did not appear in any scenes together in that film.
Kiefer Sutherland portrays John Henry Clayton, a retired gunslinger who returns home to his father, Reverend Samuel Clayton who is disappointed and disgusted by the life his son has led. The entire movie hinges on this father and son relationship that works incredibly well. I think every son knows the feeling of disappointing his father and because of that, the scripts taps into that frustration and disappointment, as two closed off men attempt to find peace within their relationship.
Outside of this internal family dynamic, there is a town where the local saloon owner played by Brian Cox is buying up land for cheap and anyone who doesn’t want to sell, he sends his enforcers to harass them into selling. John Henry’s sudden appearance in town makes the saloon owner uneasy, but John Henry makes it clear, that part of his life is now over.
Demi Moore plays an old love interest and is quite enjoyable in the role. I cannot remember the last time I saw Demi Moore in a film, but her presence was welcomed on the screen. Her character, along with most of the supporting characters, don’t have much of an arc thanks to the film centering on the father and son relationship, but she was great with what she to work with, as was Aaron Poole who portrayed our rival gunslinger and head of the enforcers, and Michael Wincott who played another gunslinger on Brian Cox’s payroll.
The original cut of the film was three hours and fifteen minutes and featured a B storyline. While, I really enjoyed Forsaken and would like to see that cut, the runtime on this was perfect for the simple story they told. It flowed nicely, was never bogged down, and featured just enough action to keep you anticipating the ending.
The score was good. I liked the main theme the best, the rest of was quite forgettable, but it made for some great wide shots and helped you embrace the beauty of it all. I didn’t see any distracting CGI and from the get go, I was fully absorbed in this world which is what I’m always looking for in Westerns.
The director Jon Cassar worked on 24 where Kiefer Sutherland and he began discussing the idea of making a Western. I think that relationship is what helps this movie succeed so well. It doesn’t try to do more than it needs to, and there is no reinventing of the wheel. Instead, there is a simple story, about a father and son against the backdrop of a cruel world. It ends beautifully and had I not watched Old Henry the week before, I think I would be shouting to the heavens how this is the best Western I’ve seen in years.
Forsaken is well worth your time.