Blu-ray Review: The Forger (2015)

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What’s going on with John Travolta’s career these days? His latest, The Forger (now available on Blu-ray and DVD via Lionsgate), is the kind of direct-to-video dud he was becoming known for prior to the Pulp Fiction comeback. Yes, he’s one of the greatest movie stars of all time. So why is he choosing to star in such underdeveloped, uninspired material? The Forger, directed by Philip Martin (who helmed the first Stephen Hawking biopic, Hawking, back in 2004), is not terrible. And quite frankly, Travolta is very good in the lead role of art forger Raymond J. Cutter. But good acting aside (Christopher Plummer has some nice moments as Raymond’s dad, Joseph) nothing rises above the level of barely passable mediocrity.

Career criminal Raymond has less than a year left on a prison sentence. But he’s desperate to get out, even if it means bending the law. His son Will (Tye Sheridan, soon to be seen as Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse) has an inoperable brain tumor. Raymond has his lawyer pull some strings by offering bribes to get him out early. The reconnecting of father-and-son is the film’s strongest element. It’s also pretty bleak, so proceed with caution if you have a natural aversion to disease/illness-theme movies. Raymond is also soon knee-deep in the crime world once again, having accepted the job of forging a priceless Monet masterpiece. The story splits in two as Raymond bonds with Will while also contemplating whether or not to work with law enforcement agents (primarily represented here by Abigail Spencer’s Agent Paisley) to bust the criminals for whom he works.

Forger 1 (380x214).jpgScreenwriter Richard D’Ovidio seems to have conceived Raymond as a criminal with the soul of an artist. After all, one does need be a pretty darn good painter to even copy the work of masters. But this introspective, creative streak in Raymond is left more or less unexplored as well. By the time we reach an unconvincing feel-good ending, it’s hard to really care about Raymond’s fate.

Forger 2 (380x214).jpgWhile The Forger is a direct-to-video title, every dollar of its reported $11 million budget is on the screen. John Bailey is the cinematographer and not for nothing was he recognized by the American Society of Cinematographers with a Lifetime Achievement Award this year. He has lensed some beautiful-looking films throughout his prolific career, from The Accidental Tourist (1988) to As Good as It Gets (1997). His work for The Forger looks great in 1080p on Lionsgate’s Blu-ray. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless mix is fine, though not exactly exciting given that this is a primarily dialogue-driven film.

The seven-minute promotional “making of” featurette is The Forger’s sole special feature. The Blu-ray package does include a Digital HD copy. I guess The Forger must’ve read better in script form, since it attracted the likes of John Travolta and Christopher Plummer. But whatever they saw in it didn’t seem to make it to the screen.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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