Forsaken revels in riffing. There’s a vengeful guns-blazing bar entrance, straight out of Unforgiven. There’s the climactic showdown with a gunslinging man in black, though it ends a little differently than Shane’s does. There’s even a nod at the elder Sutherland’s most famous role in Ordinary People: John Henry’s brother died in a river accident when they were young, the misunderstanding of which began the years-long rift between father and son.
The downside of this is that pretty much everything in Forsaken has been done better elsewhere. The off-screen connection between the Sutherlands does little to energize Kiefer’s performance. Donald spits hot fire and brimstone, but Kiefer remains as bland an avenging angel of action as ever. B–
For Kiefer Sutherland, Forsaken — now available in limited theatrical release and as video on demand — represents more than a career high point. The western drama also enhanced the personal and professional bonds between him and his father, veteran actor Donald Sutherland, with whom he shares several emotionally charged scenes. As he tells C&I in our April issue cover-story profile: “This film means a great deal to me, obviously — more than any other single thing I’ve done — for those moments.”