Do you believe in voodoo, witchcraft, or magic(k)? How about seances, psychics, or divine visions? How about La Santa Muerte, which translates literally to Saint Death?
Well, I sure as hell don't. I don't want to demean those who do believe in such mysticisms, so I won't poke fun or make light, but such beliefs and practices are most certainly not for everyone, just as religion isn't for everyone. While I find the Mexican Day of the Dead to be fascinating in its own respect, I'd rather pay homage to a 'Day of the Dead' involving Bub. So can a film that uses said beliefs as one of the driving points for plot development succeed if its viewer finds the practices to be nothing but a crock?
If the film is 'Not Forgotten,' then no, unless you consider succeeding to be a mess to be succeeding at something. A mishmash of several themes in one big melting pot, 'Not Forgotten' apparently forgot quite a few things, like clarity, coherence, and most importantly, a point.
When young Toby Bishop (Chloe Moretz) disappears, her father Jack (Simon Baker) and his wife Amaya (Paz Vega) are left with no clues as to who took the child or why. The Mexican/American border town they live in, that is already in turmoil due to the death of their Sheriff, is rocked by what eventually is revealed as a kidnapping, while what few clues exist lead south of the border.
When police on the case probe the backgrounds of the Bishop family, however, stories and accounts don't add up, and while neither parent is considered a suspect, both are suspected of other wrongdoings. A trail of murder and deceit leads all involved down a destructive path that will unravel all the lies involved, but will it also reunite Toby with her family?
I really, really want to just dismiss 'Not Forgotten' as a post-'Taken' rip off, despite the fact that it was filmed over a year before Liam Neeson redefined his career with a chance role. The everyman turned brutal badass may be "in," and if that was all there were to this film, I might at least have been entertained.
In all honesty, who's kidding who these days? Most every time a film raises questions suggesting that a character has a mysterious or absent past, and may not be as he or she seems, it always turns out said character is who they are accused of being. It's beyond cliche at this point, an overused plot device that fools less people than RuPaul. Speaking of which, 'Not Forgotten' features a scene full of transvestite/transgendered prostitutes in jail for no apparent reason other than for being dudes. Where that fits in this review? Who knows, but where anything fits in this film can also be debated. With so many female hookers running about in this "sex, drugs, and mariachi" portrayal of Mexico, you'd think there would be more arrests of them, too. Also, one scene features police raiding a home and discovering kiddie porn. How do we know it's kiddie porn? Because that's what's on the covers, in plain English: Kiddie Porn. The scene was entirely unnecessary, let alone foul and amateur.
Too many ideas get put in one blender here, and it doesn't help that some ingredients are past their expiration date. While the acting isn't bad by any means (though the complete lack of real emotion in the scenes following Toby's disappearance screams unbelievable script, rather than acting), it cannot redeem the "saw it a continent away" twists and turns that this unimaginative story throws in our faces. I enjoyed how exposition was played out, through police questioning, but even that was countered by Ken Davitian (who you all may remember as the thick skinned Borat cohort) as a Catholic priest. After 'Borat,' there's no way in hell I'm going to think of him as a member of any clergy.
When I watch a film featuring a kidnapping, I want to associate with the characters and their loss. When I engage myself in a revenge film, I want the violence to be fast and furious, bloody and nasty, and when I sit down to tales of mystic power of any origin, I want them to be developed and logical, not out of left field, sticking out like a barrio version of 'The Craft,' only with debauchery and supposed intrigue. 'Not Forgotten' wants to appeal to multiple crowds, but in my opinion, it would fail to capture the imagination of the fans of any of the genres it parades around like lifeless shells.
'Not Forgotten' arrives on Blu-ray with a VC-1 encode at 1080p on a single layer disc. I would like to point out that my mentioning of the size disc this film is contained on relates to the video score, as there are some issues that can be explained by said fact.
'Not Forgotten' has an unusual aesthetic that doesn't exactly appeal to the eye. There are two drastically different styles in how the film is portrayed, with early shots sporting an excessively bright, washed out appearance (possibly portraying light, or innocence), while later in the film, there's a murky, dark, excessively hot contrasted appearance (like darkness or sin). While this may be an intentional, conscious choice, the result is about as bi-polar and distracting as the film itself.
Color is all over the place (as can be explained above), while black levels are a real pain, appearing far too bright in some sequences, while absorbing detail like a sponge in others. Blacks also make obvious the issue of serious blocking and other artifacting. Banding is also a major issue, with some shots consisting of nothing but ever-so lovely but not too subtle shifts in shade.
Sure, there are some shots with mighty fine object detail, and the occasional striking moment of solid color that isn't horribly banded, but when a film has two options for how faces look -- between ghosts and pumpkins -- and some shots that look flatter than paper, it's very hard to praise the picture quality.
'Not Forgotten' defaults to a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, though there is an uncompressed Linear PCM 5.1 alternative found in the main menu or through toggling audio settings on your remote.
Dialogue is somewhat constant in volume, and doesn't readily give way when other elements of the film become active. Atmosphere is random, going from strong and active in all speakers, to near non-existant. Bass isn't all that powerful in the first act, but it becomes a dominant force later in the film, and no matter how much rumble and roar the LFE brought to the room (and it did), it didn't overpower score or dialogue, which surprised me. I did have to adjust volume settings a few times while watching, which was annoying. While technically proficient (with some unnatural pops at random moments to ground the experience), this track isn't amazing by any means.
"Isn't it funny how people get all religious when things go wrong?"
Toby, you took the words right out of my mouth, as I found myself wondering "Why, God, why?!" while watching this jumbled mess of a film. 'Not Forgotten' will find its way to already forgotten status quite fast, as this uninspired tale of faith and deception fails to prove itself as anything special in any of the themes it portrays. I'm sure all four (count 'em, four) theaters this film played at already forgot this one, as well. With lackluster video I already want to forget, this Blu-ray isn't one I'd recommend for a blind buy. Rent it first.