Can we not do this?
Here’s 96 minutes of your life you’ll never get back. So don’t go! Let The Ellsworth American take one for the team while you read a magazine, watch a sunset, attempt a one-arm pushup or gargle. Just don’t be tempted, as we were, by a movie featuring John Travolta, Christopher Plummer and Jennifer Ehle.
We did what we always do when tempted. We gave in to it. But hey, it’s Travolta … OK? “Pulp Fiction,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “Blow Out.” And who doesn’t trust Baron von Trapp to deliver a noble performance? We remembered Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett, love interest of Colin Firth in the 1996 iteration of “Pride and Prejudice.” So it seemed a safe bet: a good cast in what appears to be a heist movie.
Wrong. What “The Forger” appears to be is anyone’s guess. High stakes caper? Father-son reconciliation? Gritty Boston crime tale? It’s like that parable about the blind guys each taking hold of different parts of an elephant and variously pronouncing it a wall, a serpent, a tree, etc. The problem here is that the blind guys are the screenwriter, the director and the voice coach.
“The Forger” opens with a gloomy Ray Cutty (Travolta) in his tiny prison cell. His face takes on a look of stony resolution. He has 11 more months to serve and his 15-year-old son, Will (Tye Sheridan), has Stage 4 brain cancer. Ray wants out to make nice with Will.
Through his dubious attorney, he cuts a deal with a mobbed up hood who thinks he’s Whitey Bulger. The hood springs Ray, but Ray is now in his debt. To settle said debt, Ray must return to his skills as a forger and (get ready for this) paint a fake Monet and substitute it for the real one at the Museum of Fine Arts. The second part of that repayment plan would, of course, involve breaking into the museum and stealing the masterpiece without setting off 65 million alarms.
Sounds a little like “Topkapi” (1964), doesn’t it? The difference is that “Topkapi” was bright and sexy and fun. “The Forger” is dull, depressing and as sexy as cement. Did we mention incoherent?
Christopher Plummer plays Ray’s crusty dad and Jennifer Ehle is his junkie ex-wife. “The Forger” is a waste of their talents and your time. The real forger is the guy who wrote this preposterous script.