Director: Jon Cassar
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland and Brian Cox
It seems like every actor must make a western at some point, it’s the genre that has never gone away and probably never will. Kiefer Sutherland (Probably most well-known at this point for the long running TV series, 24) previously made Young Guns in the 1980s, but returned to the western genre in 2015 for Forsaken, this time bringing his father Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games, Don’t Look Now) along for the ride. While the two Sutherland’s have made a couple of films together in the past, Forsaken was the first time they shared scenes together. It is also directed by Jon Cassar who had previously directed 59 episodes of 24 with Kiefer Sutherland
It’s not really a shock that in Forsaken, Donald and Kiefer play father and son. John Henry Clayton returns to his childhood home, to find that his mother has passed and his father, Reverend Samuel Clayton on the verge of trouble. A local landowner, James McCurdy played by Brian Cox (Hannibal in Manhunter, An Adventure in Time and Space) is buying out the local farms at any costs, monetary or violence. The elder Clayton owns land that McCurdy wants. Wanting to fix his relationship with his father and stray away from the violence that has ruled his life the younger Clayton decides it’s not his place to step in and stop McCurdy and his thugs.
It’s pretty easy to figure out where this film is going to end up and even sums itself up in a line of dialogue, If you hit a dog enough, eventually he’ll bite. You’ve seen the story before, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s still enjoyable and by the end of the film, you’ll be glade that he bites. It’s not even hard to imagine what the final straw is, that makes him bite. Even though it is predictable it’s an enjoyable film.
Both Sutherlands give pretty great performances. Which is vital to a character driven film like this, if the two leads were played by lesser actors, then this would be a rather forgettable film. You can feel their estranged relationship as it is slowly repaired. There’s one scene in the church, where you get to the heart of their pasts and what has brought them to this point. It’s an emotional scene and both deliver their parts well.
Another big plus is the costumes and set design. This film looks great. The small town looks real and it’s easy to get swept up in the story. The costumes are well designed and don’t feel off at all. A lot of effort has been put into making this look authentic. The effects look good as well. When the violence does kick off, the bullet wounds look horrific.
It would be easy for Forsaken to be dismissed. It’s a cliched story with nothing you haven’t seen before. Through great performances by father and son, a perfect run time of 90 minutes and some great costumes and effects, Forsaken is an enjoyable film. It’s nothing spectacular or mind blowing, but if you like westerns then this is a decent addition to the genre.