Friday, 22 September 2017

Forsaken (2015)

It's been another of those weeks where despite more or less constant viewing no one film has leapt to the forefront. The movies I watched were either overblown and preposterous like "Underworld - Blood Wars" or worthy like Tom Hanks' "Sully" and "Tanna" (filmed entirely in Yakel, a South-Sea island dialect!) or depressing like "Man Down" (I'm really beginning to dread Shia LeBeouf) or the French flick "It's Only the End of the World" from the over-rated young director Xavier Dolan or completely forgettable like "Eliminators" (featuring action 'star' Scott Adkins -- who?) and "Ordinary World" about an aging punk rocker. Even the classic "Jealousy Italian Style" (1970) nearly put me to sleep as Monica Vitti  see-sawed between Marcello Mastroianni and Giancarlo Giannini.

So that leaves the above old-fashioned Western from TV-director Jon Cassar as this week's contender, notable for co-starring father and son Donald and Kiefer Sutherland -- if they have appeared together before, it escapes me. Set in a frontier town in 1872, Kiefer returns after many years to try to mend fences with his estranged father, the local preacher. When Kiefer's John Henry went off to fight in the Civil War, he not only lost his taste for senseless killing but he also lost his faith in a God that would allow such bloodshed. However before he could return to the simple life, he inadvertently became a killer and subsequently a feared gunslinger. So it's yet another tale of a retired gunman seeking salvation, but being forced to take up arms again for one last showdown.

It seems that local land-grabbers led by dyed-in-the-wool baddie banker, the great Brian Cox, will do whatever it takes to force the local farmers off their land. His henchmen include the uncontrollable Aaron Poole who thinks nothing of shooting first when arguments fail and the older hired gunman with principles Michael Wincott. Poole has already had a go at beating up John Henry while Daddy stands by, but his big mistake is beating up the preacher as well, nearly to the point of death. That's the final straw for Kiefer, who makes short work of the bunch. And then rides off into the sunset...

The cast also features Demi Moore (again) as John Henry's lost love, now married to another. She doesn't make much of an impression and seems to take any old role she can get nowadays. However the film is not without some merit. The standard of acting is high, the scenery impressive, and the mounting tension gripping. There's even a scene set in the church where John Henry desperately tries to regain his faith and father and son nearly reconcile. The one drawback from my point of view is that I really don't believe that the F-word was in such common parlance back in the day.

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