Forsaken‘s cast is headlined by Kiefer and Donald Sutherland, Brian Cox, and Demi Moore, and yet only character actor par excellence Michael Wincott — with a low Southern drawl and a finely manicured ‘stache and goatee — looks and sounds like he belongs in the Old West.
Inauthentic visages and accents, however, are only part of this western’s problems, as it so rigorously adheres to cliché that it never develops a personality of its own. Directed by Jon Cassar (24), Forsaken concerns the return of gunslinger John Henry (Kiefer) to his home, where his estranged preacher father (Donald) condemns him for his murderous ways. John Henry is on a turn-the-other-cheek redemptive path, which is complicated by the fact that villainous James McCurdy (Cox) is using a gang of killers — led by Wincott’s dignified Dave Turner and Aaron Poole’s psychotic Frank Tillman — to strong-arm families out of their homes.
Cassar favors tight close-ups and medium shots that unpleasantly constrict the action, and his story is merely one tedious, predictable build-up to having John Henry finally pick up his guns and deliver some frontier justice.
Amid Kiefer’s narrow-eyed glowering, Donald’s exhausted-sage routine, and Moore’s approximation of rural homeliness, only Wincott seems to fit in, exuding a poised, laconic cold-bloodedness that stands in stark contrast to the film’s inert phoniness.
Directed by Jon Cassar
Opens February 19, Cinema Village
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 16, 2016