That rare post-Millennial western which knows its place in America’s defining genre, Forsaken makes classic tropes its forte, and genre conventions its backbone.Reuniting director Jon Cassar with his '24' partner-in-arms, Kiefer Sutherland, and further giving us our first on-screen pairing between Kiefer and his real-life dad, the veteran Donald Sutherland, Forsaken doesn’t try to do anything that hasn’t been done a hundred times before within the overinflated western genre, relying instead upon the fact that it’s likely been several decades since it was done this well. It’s a simple tale of forgiveness and redemption and, in many areas, just plain old school good and bad; set in a time when things were – at least on the face of it – more simple and direct than they are these days.The Sutherland’s work well together, whilst Cassar knows how to bring the best out of Kiefer, whose brooding intensity here reminds us that there’s still some Jack Bauer fever running beneath the surface. Brian Cox chews scenery as the smarmy villain, whilst Michael Wincott brings some dignity to the role of lead enforcer, with even Demi Moore turns in one of her most understated and commendable supporting performances in decades. Rreminding us of two of the greatest Westerns in the last 25 years – Eastwood’s Unforgiven and Costner’s Open Range – Forsaken may be small scale and small ambition, but it knows exactly what it’s trying to do, and it does it very well indeed.
Picture QualityHitting UK Region Free Blu-ray courtesy of Universal, Forsaken is delivered with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. It’s not an epic film, and arguably does not make the fullest use of the broad, cinematic vistas that you would expect from the open range, but this does not wholly clash with the more intimate style of the piece and the themes that it trades in. The digitally-shot feature retains excellent detail, and promotes impressive clarity, with fine textures, skin observations, clothing frays and background touches, with no significant digital anomalies and no sign of softness and distress.
Forsaken looks largely very good indeed in High Definition.
The colour scheme is skewed by an intentional sepia-brown filtering designed to give it more of a classic western feel with only a limited effect on the more natural tones on offer – skin colour remaining healthy, the green foliage far from vibrant but also far from drab, and overall a brown-dominance to the piece. Black levels are strong, with decent shadow detail, although are also far from perfect, all of which leaves us with a very good presentation which is a notch shy of demo or reference praise.
Sound QualityThe movie’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 offers warm atmospheric accompaniment, with enough precision and presence to make up for the fact that it’s almost devoid of the kind of gunshot punch you might associate with conventional westerns. When guns are fired, there’s a suitably deep reverberation, with the kind of thunder and echo commensurate to old school revolver discharge.
Forsaken isn’t littered with living room-destroying bombast, but builds a warm atmosphere nonetheless.
Beyond the surround usage during the key gunfights, old school western town bustle, bar-room chatter and clinking of glasses, and horses clopping all bring the setting to life, whilst a thoughtful background score plays out beneath it all. It’s a solid, albeit unexceptional aural presentation.
ExtrasThere's only one extra on offer - a Making Of Featurette - which allows us glimpses behind the shoot, at scenes being filmed, whilst we get interview snippets from the key cast and crew members, with the Sutherlands on hand to talk about doing an old school western, and most of the bit players contributing too.
VerdictForsaken is a solid addition to the old school western genre.
The film's UK Region Free Blu-ray release is a solid one, with decent video and audio, and if you love your westerns, then this is well worth checking out.
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