The Forger – John Travolta Heist Movie Doesn’t Work

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Directed by Philip Martin. Produced by Rob Carliner, Al Corley, Eugene Musso, and Bart Rosenblatt. Written by Richard D’Ovidio. Release date: April 24, 2015.

There are two competing stories in The Forger, a “crime thriller” – as the internet puts it – that contains a little bit of crime but absolutely no thrills. The first of these stories sees Raymond J. Cutter (John Travolta) get out of prison a few months early in order to be with his son, Will (Tye Sheridan), who has pretty terrible cancer. The second story sees Raymond have to plan and pull off a heist of a painting in order to pay back the person who allowed for his sentence to run out early.

So, on one hand we have this father and his son, bonding for what may be the first time in ages, and on the other, we’ve got a heist movie. Together, they should deliver both the emotional payoff and the thrills that come from taking things that do not belong to you and are guarded by people with guns. But what sounds like it may be successful on paper often doesn’t work out in reality, and Philip Martin‘s The Forger is a strong example of that. Instead of complimenting one another, the stories compete for screen time and both turn out to be shallow, incomplete versions of a whole. Neither of the desired effects is achieved. Any attempt at an emotional undercurrent is ruined by a lack of depth and the heist is as bland and uninteresting as it can be.

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This isn’t even all that there is to the film, though. Raymond sometimes has to be a tough guy – one who has a drug addict of an ex, for some reason. There’s also an FBI agent (Abigail Spencer), who tracks Raymond for the film’s duration because … she does. Despite the numerous crimes and probation violations he accrues, she only attempts to arrest him once. She exists to allow the film to wrap up cleanly, and to kill time in the interim.

A lot of The Forger feels like that, actually. Points that should only take a short period of time to get across are dwelled upon for far longer than they should, and since the characters are so bland, all of their sitting around and talking doesn’t lead to any depth or development, making these scenes feel like a waste of time. The Forger runs for just over 90 minutes but plays significantly longer than that. I checked the time far more frequently during this than for significantly longer films. It doesn’t even begin to capture your attention, let alone your emotions.

The Forger is a bad movie from start to finish that feels like it takes forever to get where it wants to go and provides you with absolutely nothing to take from it.

I feel like John Travolta is going to be thrown under the bus for The Forger, and I get why. He’s not good here. His dramatic scenes with a better Tye Sheridan make you wonder how he was ever given an acting job, and then we also have to believe him as a (1) painter, (2) tough guy, and (3) Ocean‘s-style heist planner. I couldn’t buy into him as any of those things. But he was miscast. Travolta probably couldn’t have turned in a good performance and worked in this role. He’s just not right for it.

About the only positive in the film comes in the form of Christopher Plummer, here playing the father to John Travolta’s character and the grandfather to the one played by Tye Sheridan. His banter with both of his co-stars is a treat. In fact, the only time The Forger truly comes alive – or even becomes entertaining – is when Plummer is on-screen. Take Travolta’s character out of the picture altogether, make the film about Plummer and Sheridan’s characters pulling off a heist together, and you’ve likely got something far more enjoyable.

With fewer thrills and less emotional investment than your typical Boston Red Sox game, The Forger is a bad movie from start to finish that feels like it takes forever to get where it wants to go and provides you with absolutely nothing to take from it. It’s bland, boring, and a waste of time. John Travolta is horrible and miscast in the lead role. Christopher Plummer and Tye Sheridan fair better, and the film only really starts to work when Plummer is on-screen. He’s a delight. The rest of the movie? Calling it a delight would be a deceit.

Bottom Line: The Forger is a boring heist movie whose competing stories take time away from each other, leaving each barren and shallow.

Recommendation: I can’t think of any reason why anyone should see The Forger.



If you want more of Matthew “Marter” Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.

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