by Adam Riske
No. Don’t get me wrong; The Forger is not a “good” movie, but it’s not that bad (it’s more bland than dreadful) and I recommend it if you’re a fan of its star John Travolta. It’s mildly entertaining and kind. Much of the criticism for The Forger seems centered around Travolta as if his existing in the movie was reason enough for a pan. I’m not going to pile on and hate it just because I’m supposed to hate it. I’m a fan of John Travolta as an actor. In fact, he is my favorite actor and he’s decent to actually pretty good throughout The Forger. He, as well as his co-star Tye Sheridan, are the best parts of the movie. As for the rest of The Forger, the critics are right – it’s pretty lightweight and forgettable. This is DTV fare that’s debuted on VOD similar to the recent output from the likes of Nicolas Cage or John Cusack, though Travolta is trying a little harder than his peers; at least in this movie.
The plot in brief: An art forger (John Travolta) makes a deal with a criminal (Anson Mount) to get an early release from prison in return for pulling off a heist. The job is to forge a painting by Claude Monet in order to steal the original and replace it with the replica. The forger enlists the help of his father (Christopher Plummer) and his dying son (Tye Sheridan).
The rest of the characters and how the story plays out feel very stock and generic, mostly informed by other movies. Christopher Plummer is playing a cartoon Irish grandpa, even though his onscreen son and grandson don’t appear to be Irish at all. The Boston setting is all warmed over Dennis Lehane and the heist feels like it was written by someone who knows nothing about heists other than what they’ve seen in movies that are not even as good as Ocean’s Thirteen. There’s no suspense to if they’ll pull off the scam whatsoever. The director, Phillip Martin, comes from TV work and this is an inauspicious debut. The direction is clean but unmemorable. The script, by Richard D’Ovidio (The Call, Thir13en Ghosts, Exit Wounds) is probably his best script, but that’s not saying much. This is purely a genre exercise with nothing on its mind bigger than the movie’s mechanical plot. The technique is so workmanlike that it takes on the feel of a kid writing a paper and hoping it’s good enough to get a C. Most people making The Forger were not swinging for the fences. There’s little mood or style worth mentioning and the movie is pretty mindless, especially in the third act.