As a genre, the western tends to be full of clichés. There are character types and storylines that one sees over and over again when watching a western. One of the big questions with such a movie is how well those repeated elements are used. In Forsaken, which stars both Kiefer Sutherland and his father, Donald Sutherland, the answer is that they don't do much other than making this old-school western feel like a movie everyone has seen multiple times before.
The younger Sutherland plays John Henry Clayton, a middle-aged man returning to the small town in which he grew up, Fowler, after 10 years away. John Henry fought in the Civil War and then made a name for himself as a gunslinger and a not terribly nice person.
The elder Sutherland is John Henry's father, Reverend Clayton. The Reverend, as a man of the cloth, abhors violence and the life his son has chosen (but their problems started well before John Henry left). He is also going through a bad time as John Henry arrives soon after the Reverend's wife and John Henry's mother passes away.
So, John Henry then takes on the standard role of retired gunslinger, a man who came across something so bad in his travels that he stopped in his tracks and is now trying to hide from the world and right past wrongs back at home. His father is the harsh preacher with enough love in his heart for his congregation but too little for his son.
Naturally, things aren't going well in Fowler as an evil businessman, James McCurdy, (Brian Cox) has hired a gang of criminals to force local ranchers to sell their homes. The railroad is coming and McCurdy wants to make a fortune as land values rise. Throughout the movie, McCurdy's gang humiliates John Henry as our retired gunslinger turns his cheek, trying to prove to his father and himself that John Henry really has put his past behind him. John Henry even reunites with a lost love, Mary-Alice (Demi Moore), upon his return. Sadly for him, she hasn't been waiting and instead found herself a good man… not that she doesn't harbor feelings for John Henry and a love triangle doesn't ensue.
If you can see all the pieces coming together here and just how the whole thing is going to shake out, that's because the Jon Cassar-directed movie has little, if anything, to differentiate itself from other westerns. It is unfortunate, because Forsaken isn't put together badly at all, and watching the two Sutherlands opposite each other is quite enjoyable. The elder Sutherland plays the Reverend and his inner conflict perfectly, and the younger's low, gravelly, voice lends itself to someone who has seen horrors through his life, horrors that he's trying to run from.
In its best moments, Forsaken acknowledges that the story is operating on rails. After the gang McCurdy has hired, which is led by Frank Tillman (Aaron Poole) starts killing folks, another of McCurdy's hired guns, "Gentleman" Dave Turner (Michael Wincott), expresses his regrets that he, Dave, can't simply talk the ranchers into selling. McCurdy calls him out for such foolishness, pointing out to Gentleman Dave what the audience knew from the beginning – there was always going to be killing involved. There is also a moment where it's pointed out to Frank by both McCurdy and Gentleman Dave that in bullying the Claytons, Frank is upsetting the one man in town who could put an end to McCurdy's plans (there is no sheriff and a request for a Marshall has gone unheeded).
It is as though these conversations have to be included in Forsaken because the entire audience is shouting them to the screen and Brad Mirman's script is trying to acknowledge that. Frank's actions are dumb and Gentlemen Dave offers a naiveté in some moments that make little to no sense.
While it is great that Forsaken acknowledges these faults, why it doesn't instead attempt to avoid them is a different, unanswered, question. It is also a disappointment.
In the end, there is nothing horribly wrong with Forsaken, but there isn't all that much right about it either. The shootouts aren't terribly special; John Henry's deep, dark, secret isn't all that different; and the plot is so well used that the movie barely explains it, counting on the audience to know McCurdy's motivation from having already seen someone else make the same sort of land grab in some other movie. It isn't unenjoyable, but a month or two after watching Forsaken one would be hard-pressed to identify it from a lineup of westerns if it didn't stand out solely for being the one with both Kiefer and Donald Sutherland. That just isn't enough.
Source : http://www.ign.com/articles/2016/02/23/forsaken-review