Today: July 18, 2024

Forsaken

The Sutherlands share some quality time together in this by-the-numbers Western. Kiefer stars as John Henry Clayton, a grizzled war vet trying to put his gun-slinging days behind him and make amends with his dear old dad William (Donald – doing his best to look like an emaciated Colonel Sanders). It’s far from happy families to start with, though.

Pops Clayton is a pastor, a committed man of God who doesn’t exactly approve of the path that John has taken. Where has he been all these years? Where was he when his mother was taken ill? Charging around the country committing wanton acts of violence? Suffice to say the renewed father-son relationship is a touch frosty.

William’s parishioners haven’t exactly got smiles on their faces either. A dastardly property developer (Brian Cox) is determined to buy up all the surrounding land and if they don’t play ball he’s more than willing to let the hounds of the leash.

Chief among them are greasy-haired hothead Frank Tillman (Aaron Poole) and the excellently named Gentleman Dave (Michael Wincott). The latter is a tea-sipping dandy with a silver tongue and one hell of a quick draw. He’s also the best thing about the film, so it’s a shame his screen time is so limited. The same goes for Cox, although he does get to dole out a memorable tongue-lashing to a deal-welching local.

As for the Sutherlands they seem happy to go through the motions. Kiefer works well enough as a mysterious man of few words, but when he’s required to quit growling and actually show some emotion – either with William or former flame Demi Moore – his heart just doesn’t seem in it.

There’s also never a question about where things are going, so before long you’re pleading with John Henry to quit doing yard work and pick up his gun belt. At long last he finally does and – thankfully – he puts on a decent show. A solid barroom shootout isn’t enough to make up for the previous shortcomings, but if you’re looking for some starry Sunday afternoon fare you could do worse.

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