The world's best art forger (John Travolta) makes a deal with a crime syndicate to get an early release from prison, but in return he agrees to pull off an impossible heist-he must forge a painting by Claude Monet, steal the original from a museum and replace it with a replica so perfect that no one will notice. He enlists the help of his father (Christopher Plummer) and son (Tye Sheridan) and together they plan the heist of their lives.
"Jesus Christ! What the hell are you doing here?"
Remember when John Travolta's name was enough to make sure a movie did decent business and provided some solid entertainment at the movie theater? It feels like forever and a day ago that the man was in a decent, entertaining movie. Something happened after 'Battlefield Earth' that allowed Travolta to star in big movies with a budget, but regulated the man to mediocre films that are hardly worth the time to watch - let alone the millions of dollars spent to produce and market them. Sadly things don't improve for Mr. Kotter's best student in 'The Forger,' a film so confused as to what it's trying to be that it ultimately forgets that it's a movie intended to entertain an audience.
Ray Cutter (John Travolta) is serving a dime for art forgery. With only a scant ten months left on his sentence, he is desperate to get out of prison - so desperate he's willing to sell his talents to a local Boston wanna-be gangster to grease the wheels of justice and be granted and early release. Why would a man with less than a year left do this? It turns out Ray's son Will (Tye Sheridan) has been diagnosed with a stage 4 brain tumor and only has a matter of months to live. For the last several years Ray's Dad Joseph (Christopher Plummer) has been taking care of the boy.
Now that Ray is out, he needs to fulfill his promise to Keegan (Anson Mount) and deliver the goods. The goods just happens to be a forgery of one of Claude Monet's paintings. But a forgery isn't exactly worth $50,000. Keegan not only needs a forgery, but he needs Ray to steal the original from a museum before it goes up for action so Keegan can pay off a debt to a ruthless drug lord. While Ray tries to do the job, he also has to take care of his ailing son, having granted the boy three wishes, one of which involves letting him help on the heist. As all of this family melodrama and criminal hijinks are going down, Ray has to keep out from under the watchful eye of FBI agent Paisley (Abigail Spencer) who is determined to take Keegan and anyone associated with his criminal empire down.
'The Forger' is one of those movies that just doesn't know what the heck it is. Is it a suspense film about art theft and the mechanics of pulling off the perfect job? Or is it a run-of-the-mill family drama that one would routinely see on Lifetime played by Will Farrell and Kristen Wiig as a joke? Sadly it's actually both without enough elements of either plot to make the final product interesting. Directed by Phillip Martin from a script by Richard D'Ovidio, 'The Forger' just isn't an interesting movie. Nothing genuinely happens to make one feel invested in Ray and sympathize with him having to turn back to a life of crime. So much of the film is spent with Ray reconnecting with his son that he doesn't even begin working on the forgery until the film is nearly half over. The material with Ray and his family works well enough, but the heist element is so goofy that it's like the movie forgot it wasn't a comedy.
Performances are pretty decent over all, but so many of these actors are so underwritten they're completely wasted. We don't really get to know Ray well enough or his history to make Travolta's talents as an artist believable. Anson Mount is completely non-threatening that it's difficult to take him seriously as a bad guy. Then you have Abigail Spencer's Agent Paisley. For an FBI agent she makes some really stupid choices. She can't surveillance a suspect at all, and given her namesake - has a dramatic lack of patterned clothing. I mean come on, with a name like "Paisley" at least have her wear plaid so there is a hint of ironic humor! In the end most of the effective dramatic heavy lifting comes from Christopher Plummer and Tye Sheridan - if the movie had just been about these two, that would have been something to see. But it's not about them, its about Travolta, and his character just is not that interesting.
At a scant 96 minutes, there's little material to enjoy out of 'The Forger.' It's a fake heist movie that tries to be 'The Thomas Crown Affair' remake while also somehow attempting to be something more profound and meaningful - but fails at both. It is very difficult to put this film on the Good/Bad scale of films since it isn't good or bad - it's just boring. By the time the big heist happens it's not thrilling, complicated or even remotely interesting because the results have been built up to be a forgone conclusion. There are any number of heist films or family melodrama's I would suggest people watch before even considering plugging in 'The Forger.'
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Forger' arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Lionsgate printed on a Region A locked BD25 disc. Housed in a standard Blu-ray case with slip cover, the disc opens past a slew of trailers for other Lionsgate releases before arriving to the simple main menu.
'The Forger' actually boasts some pretty striking HD imagery with its 2.40:1 1080p presentation. Black levels and shadows are particularly noteworthy since they provide a lot of pop and three dimensional depth. Colors are a bit muted in some places, but for the most part they offer a nice fall-like seasonal tone with golden hues allowed to really showcase throughout the film. Detail is very strong here as well, close ups of the paint globs on canvasses really stand out, as do costumes and facial features - unfortunately that includes Travolta's rather distracting hair piece - seriously it looks like doll's hair glued to his head in a few scenes. All around this is a very good looking movie.
'The Forger' only gets a decent DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track to accompany the beautiful visuals. For a film with surround sound, you hardly notice any activity coming from the surround channels as most of the sounds keep to the stereos. There is some imaging movement here and there, but it's nothing too impressive or noteworthy until the film gets closer to the big heist. As a very talk-heavy film, dialogue comes with crystal clear without any real interference from sound effects or the score. Dynamic range is fine as most of the audio keeps to the midranges making sure things don't drop out or spike out of control. It's serviceable, just not incredible.
Identifying The Forger: Creating Character & Conflict: (HD 7:22) This is an all too brief behind the scenes piece that feels like cobbled-together EPK footage than anything put together for a genuine purpose.
I don't quite know what I was expecting going into 'The Forger.' When it hit theaters, it got a solid savaging from critics and bombed in theaters, so I guess I was hoping to just be entertained if even a little bit. But I wasn't entertained, I was bored. It's a shame, with this cast - magic should have happened. As a Blu-ray release, it's okay. The picture quality is rock solid, but the audio is only serviceable and the lone extra feature isn't worth the time. It's a tough call. I'd tell most people to skip it, but if you're extremely curious it's only good for a rental if you have absolutely nothing better to watch.