Blu-Ray Review by Dominic Messier, Founder, Editor and Love of Hidden Movie Gems
There is a downside to the world of movies, theatrically anyway, when high profile popcorn films will displace the smaller, independently produced or modestly budgeted projects which, despite their meager production limitations, often signify a lesser product in the eye of the average film goer.
This is rarely true, with some of the more heartfelt and honest stories coming out of small art house studios, as if they were trying harder to sing for their meal, like a college basketball player roughing it unlike the multi-million dollar pro calling in a performance in a game, too busy enjoying endorsement deals.
Despite a soporific performance by its star John Travolta, The Forger has a decent set of bones to its body that promises much, delivers just enough and offers some decent lessons about family bonds.
While many pundits preferred to dismiss this movie in favor of cheap shots at Travolta’s hairpiece, I prefer to focus on the effort by the actor to convey the affection he holds for his onscreen son, playing Ray Cutter, a former forger released from jail early through a shady arrangement with a shady criminal (Anson Mount) so he can spend time with his teenage son (Tye Sheridan) who’s been diagnosed with a Stage 4 tumor in his brain.
With the help of his curmudgeonly father (Christopher Plummer), Ray takes one last job to pay back the terms of his early release by creating a forged copy of a famous Monet painting that is to be sold by his debtor to a rich corrupt mobster, all in exchange for being left alone to look after his son.
With the cops on the watch, time running out and a burgeoning reconnection with his dying son, Ray must endeavor to pull off one final heist so he can focus on what he cares for the most while finally abandoning a life of crime behind.
On the surface, The Forger is pretty basic, not a masterpiece of crime films nor a head scratcher of a puzzle designed to confuse the average movie fan.
Travolta does seem a bit disinterested in the project, sporting a soul patch and looking a bit bloated, but whether this is an artistic character decision or the sign of an actor phoning in a performance is up for debate.
He still conveys enough care to convincingly portray Ray as a man whose life mistakes weigh heavily on him, leaving him with very little time to make amends, finally making a deal with the devil to afford himself a chance for one last hangout with his son.
The feel of Travolta’s performance gives off the vibe of us seeing Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction, had he not been as worldly and educated.
Young Tye Sheridan plays innocent and frustrated well enough as the dying teen hoping to help his dad and live the excitement of the criminal life, if only to get a feel of his dad’s former world while Christopher Plummer, known for Shakespearian roles and a movie classic involving Von Trapp singers, lets loose by playing a potty mouthed, angry old man who puts his disappointment in his son aside for the sake of his grandson’s happiness.
I’m serious. If you dismiss my assessment of this movie in favor of the general consensus calling it a piece of indie trash, then at least watch it so to watch Mr. Plummer swear up a storm like a demented grandpa with Tourette’s.
Listen: The Forger isn’t Ocean’s Eleven nor is it Goodfellas. It’s part family drama, part heist film (a very minor part), but mostly a tale about a desperate dad forced to take desperate measure for a few redemptive moments in a life otherwise lived in misery and repentance, sandwiched between an eccentric performance by a veteran actor supporting a Hollywood pop culture icon and a young actor game enough to follow their lead.
Oh, and wait for that moment until you realize the bad guy in this film is the lead star of TV’s Hell on Wheels, until you notice you didn’t recognize him without the beard. Wow.
Check out this film as an experiment is something a little different. You could be surprised.
3 out of 5
Dominic Messier is a media veteran who’s written and discussed movies for almost 20 years, from entertainment radio shows to newspaper columns to websites. Follow him on Twitter via @dommessier or join the Pop Culture Landscape with Dominic Messier page on Facebook.