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 a rare on-screen pairing between Kiefer and his real-life dad, the veteran actor Donald Sutherland, Forsaken doesn’t try to do anything that hasn’t been done a hundred times before within the overinflated western genre.Instead it relies upon the fact that it’s likely been several decades since a straightforward Western 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.
A contemporary classic of sorts, Forsaken doesn't shy away from its genre constraints, instead making them work for it.
The Sutherlands 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. Reminding 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.
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