FORSAKEN is a western starring Kiefer Sutherland and his father, Donald Sutherland. Kiefer plays John Henry Clayton, a gunfighter who lost his faith during the Civil War. Now, he’s returned home to his preacher father perhaps to find his way back to family and even faith. However, a local man has hired some thugs to steal land from the local of landowners because the railroad is coming. Of course, they want the Reverend’s property. The hired thugs beat up and stab the Reverend. Will the Reverend survive? How will John Henry deal with these villains who refuse to go away?
The plot of FORSAKEN is beautifully crafted and reminiscent of classic Hollywood westerns. Several of the moments between Donald and Kiefer Sutherland are very poignant and emotional. The amount of Christian content in FORSAKEN is amazing, including several sermons, frequent citations of Scripture and the return to faith of John Henry. Regrettably, however, some violence and strong foul language diminish the appeal of FORSAKEN for media-wise viewers and families. Even with its limitations, FORSAKEN is entertaining and compelling, though extreme caution is advised.
(CCC, BBB, CapCapCap, LL, VVV, S, A, M) Very strong Christian worldview with the atheist son of a preacher coming back to Jesus, very strong moral themes of evil versus good and very strong moral values refuting evil, very pro private property in a capitalist sense; 12 obscenities and one profanity, several of which are “f” words; very strong, sometimes brutal violence in short bursts such as two men beaten mercilessly, several men shot in head, several scenes of bloodied people, ambush, range war, shootouts, and pacifist returns to killing, which he was trying to avoid; no sex, but suggestions of adulterous attractions; no nudity; alcohol use and saloons; no smoking or drugs; and, stealing property, lying, cheating, breaking promises, thuggery, intimidation.
FORSAKEN is an extremely Christian, modern rendition of a classic western whose audience is slightly diminished by foul language and some very brief, brutal violence.
The movie opens with Kiefer Sutherland as John Henry Clayton riding back to his isolated home amidst the grandeur of the West. A brief scene at the very opening suggests the brutal killing of a little boy.
When John Henry gets home to his preacher father, played by Donald Sutherland, there’s tremendous tension. John Henry’s beloved mother has died. His Reverend father asks why he couldn’t be there for her when she was healthy rather than returning after her death. Evidently, John Henry went off to the Civil War, and, in the brutal battle of Shiloh, lost his faith and became a notorious gunman. The Reverend quotes Scripture to confront his son and chastise him in a brutal way. The Reverend didn’t like his son becoming a killer. John Henry puts up with his father’s anger.
When they go to town, his father sends John Henry to the saloon to pick up some cider. The saloon is crawling with some really bad guys. One of them, Dave Turner, is a famous hired gun. It turns out that the railroad is coming to town. An archetypal western villain, James McCurdy, is trying to acquire all the property around the town so he can become even richer when the railroad comes to town. To acquire the property, he’s hired a group of gunslingers, who will do anything to get rid of the landowners. Of course, eventually, they want the Reverend’s property.
When John Henry walks out of the saloon, McCurdy’s hired guns are mercilessly beating one of the landowners. John Henry steps between the villains and the landowner, but he’s unwilling to wear a gun or engage in violence.
John Henry is trying to find his way back to a life without killing. Slowly but surely, his father sees his transformation, and they eventually reconcile in a beautiful scene where John Henry comes back to Jesus Christ in the church his father pastors.
By that time, however, several landowners and several villains have been killed. Eventually, McCurdy’s hired thugs beat and stab the Reverend.
Will the Reverend survive? How will John Henry deal with these villains who refuse to go away?
The plot of FORSAKEN is beautifully crafted and reminiscent of classic westerns, including some of my father Bob Tex Allen’s movies. Several of the moments between Donald and Kiefer Sutherland are very poignant and emotional. It is great to see them playing in a movie together.
The amount of Christian content in FORSAKEN is amazing, including several sermons, frequent citations of Scripture and the return to faith of John Henry. It is clear one of the villains is the Devil, and the Good vs Evil theme is again reminiscent of classic westerns.
Regrettably, Brian Cox uses some “f” words, and those, with some other foul language, diminish the movie’s attractiveness to the 132 million people who go to church almost weekly. Without the foul language, FORSAKEN would have been a faith-friendly movie. Also, some of the blood and gore is over the top and out of place because the movie is really a father-son story.
Even with its limitations, for those who love classic westerns, FORSAKEN is entertaining, though extreme caution is advised.
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