The Forger is heist pic meets Family Guy. OK, so I lied a bit there, but definitely JT doing his deep-and-meaningful trying-to-be-a-good-dad-against-the-odds turn while forging a Monet to be swapped in a robbery.
Oh, the brooding Travolta‘s Raymond J Cutter, he of the annoying pointy micro-beard, is fresh out of prison and on parole by the way, a judge having been bought off. This does not make him especially happy, but judging by the way his features appear to have been sculpted from granite the only sensible conclusion is that much is going on inside that we cannot read.
And just so you know, his son, Will, has stage 4 cancer of the brain – though you’d scarcely know he was in any discomfort judging by appearances, and certainly hasn’t had chemo. I know about cancers so these things matter to me. Audiences do have a remarkable attention for detail, so get the little things wrong and the impact is greatly reduced in the form of reduced concentration. My attention wandered several times, which in a would-be crime thriller is a crime.
Least believable of all is how they are all playing happily families on a remote beach somewhere at the end, with no sign of hospital beds, morphine drips or priests to read the last rites. Has the stage 4 cancer (which must by this stage have metastasised elsewhere in Will’s body) withered away to nothing? Whatever, it is too late by then.
So what I’m saying is that this film requires the audience to suspend disbelief a lot, and more frequently than even your average heist pic, but then the anti-hero’s relationship with his son is way more important to the plot than the heist, which is why I’ve classified it as drama rather than action or thriller.
Tell the truth, there’s not that much action and not that many thrills to warrant a reclassification, other than the odd punch-up and a curtailed heist scene. Perhaps John should break out into a Saturday Night Fever-style dance scene to enliven the plot, or at least send himself up à la Pulp Fiction?
So overall the generally statuesque Travolta does not especially appeal, and Tye Sheridan as son Will does not do a lot more – except inexplicably join in the heist at the end. Given Raymond’s ethics and desire to avoid breaking the terms of his parole (he fails at that, in case you were wondering, but still does enough to stay out of jail by double-crossing the real villains), you’d think he would probably not accede to that last wish.
Let me tell you what I like best about The Forger: Christopher Plummer who can still turn a trick in spite of his advancing years (87 of them to date), just as he did in the wonderful Beginners. In fact, Plummer is enjoying a glorious twilight to a remarkable career, one worthy of celebrating. His gramps (aka Joseph Cutter) is by turn cutesy and snarling, certainly the most watchable character on display.
Secondly, Jennifer Ehle as the estranged and flakey mother Kim, whom Will insists he wants to meet before he dies. It seems yonks since I saw Ehle in anything, though a quick flick through her career tells me she has been working steadily in film and television, albeit mostly in things I did not see or which were otherwise unremarkable. A shame, since Ehle is one of a select band of actresses that can bring an extra dimension to any character. Now well into her 40s, she has not lost the ability to convey multiple conflicting emotions and should by rights be playing leading roles.
So in conclusion, this is an underwhelming movie that probably merits 4.5 out of 10 on the Millward scale, even if a few of the touches are quite nice. It does make me wonder what would have happened had, say, Christopher Nolan or David Fincher been directing rather than the slightly pedestrian Philip Martin?