The combined star power of two Sutherlands can't quite energize "Forsaken," a remedial western that plays like a mildly R-rated version of a basic cable movie. Fans of the genre — and the cast — may find it a pleasant enough diversion, but given the recent wave of strong frontier dramas, this film feels especially minor.
Kiefer Sutherland stars as John Henry Clayton, a notorious gunslinger who tries to reform after his mother's death. Donald Sutherland plays his father, a stern reverend disgusted by his son's violent past.
Brian Cox is James McCurdy, a small-town bully whose petty dictatorship is threatened by the righteousness of one Clayton and the deadly acumen of the other. McCurdy and his gentlemanly hired gun Dave Turner (Michael Wincott) spend the first hour of "Forsaken" carefully trying to contain the Claytons but can't keep their cocky goons from pushing the heroes too far.
"Forsaken" builds to a big gunfight, well staged by director Jon Cassar (best known for his work on Kiefer's "24"). But not enough happens in the setup, which is mostly dedicated to father and son bonding over the latter's Civil War stories.
It's a treat to see Kiefer and Donald side by side, and both give fine performances. But a pairing this special deserved a story more unique than "reluctant killer reaches for his guns." "Forsaken" has the bullets, but the weapon is too rusty.
MPAA rating: R, for violence and some language
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: AMC Atlantic Times Square 14, Monterey Park. Also on VOD.