By: Addison Wylie
I truly believe that everyone starring in The Forger knows they’re capable of more. John Travolta, Tye Sheridan, Christopher Plummer, everyone. There are moments in Philip Martin’s crime thriller where you can catch an actor glimpse at a chance to open up their performance, but these fleeting breaths are revoked by Martin’s generic filmmaking and Richard D’Ovidio’s routine screenplay.
First of all, Travolta doesn’t fit the build of art theif Ray Cutter. The Hollywood star has won over audiences with different roles, but his familiar stature is hard to buy when the film demands movie goers to identify him as an intimidating thug. He’s much more suitable when his type of gangsters have a charismatic quality to them (see: Pulp Fiction or even Swordfish).
Ray is a criminal who has had a change of heart. Once leaving prison, he immediately wants to regain a bond with his wayward, sickly son Will (played by Sheridan). Will is hostile towards his deadbeat father, and Ray understands that. Ray also comprehends that nothing in life is free. Upon his release, Ray learns that he must take part in a heist and steal an original Monet. His father Joseph (played by Plummer) disapproves, and makes sure Ray knows with a flurry of salty language.
Just as Travolta is trying hard to make a surprising impression, Sheridan and Plummer try as well with their undefined roles. Sheridan’s role is reduced to moody brooding, and Plummer’s Irish surliness has the veteran actor chewing the scenery.
The Forger is too broad to make an impact; as if Martin told his production to watch The Departed and copy what worked. The secondary and tertiary criminals are interchangeable, and are equipped with contrived scruffy slickness. Meanwhile, Abigail Spencer and other supporting actors play exposition-spewing police officers. When the fuzz enter the scene, this signals that D’Ovidio is losing the audience’s interest. This either suggests how graceless the screenwriter is or how weary he feels towards the film’s demographic.
The only way The Forger earns an indifferent shrug is that it’s being released after McG’s 3 Days to Kill, another crime thriller about a deadbeat dad who has ties to the mob but would rather mend his relationship to his family.
McG’s boring movie was a tremendous failure, often arguing with itself about whether it was a crashingly loud escapism or something more mature. The Forger is dull as dishwater, but it can at least provide credible sentimentality. Passionate emotions are alive during scenes where Ray teaches Will about the beauty of art and the delicate work behind a masterpiece.
I would’ve preferred The Forger if it had scrapped the sloppy fight choreography, and had tied itself down as a nuanced drama about an art theorist with a dark past. While this type of flick may not have catered to the wham-bam action crowd, The Forger would’ve been grounded in a much more acceptable and interesting reality.