John Travolta can still act.
That might sound a little condescending but let me explain. John Travolta has not exactly been the A-List star he used to be over the past 10 years. His most recent efforts have included Savages, Killing Season, From Paris with Love and Old Dogs. Not exactly four titles that you would hold out for if a Best of Travolta DVD set was in the works. If we look back on the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, Travolta was a box office draw and was able to command in upwards of $15 million per film that associated his name. In present times, Travolta seems to be more famous for his affiliation with the Church of Scientology, his hair pieces or his butchering on names when announcing on the awards circuit. Whether it be his bad choice of films or his lackluster performances, Travolta’s Hollywood stock has fallen.
So it is no surprise that Travolta’s recent effort, The Forger, came straight to VoD (Video on Demand). With his box office clout no longer a sure-fire, Travolta may have been on the cusp of turning into the next Nicolas Cage in terms of films never to see a big screen outside of the one in your basement. But The Forger proves that Travolta is still a viable actor – an actor that when given the right material can provide a stellar performance even in the mires of a lackluster script.
Travolta plays Raymond Cutter, a paroled thief who plans on forging and stealing a Monet painting in an effort to provide for his sick teenage son (Tye Sheridan) who is dying of cancer. It is the stereotypical, ‘one-more-job-and-I’m-out’ story infused with uninteresting meandering subplots that do little to catapult the film forward.
The biggest issue with the film comes from the story itself. Writer Richard D’Ovidio took a plate for idea spaghetti and threw it against the wall to see what would stick. Unfortunately, not much did. The relationship between Raymond and his father (Christopher Plummer) was forced and lacked credibility. And scenes such as Raymond taking his son to a whore house felt both icky and underwritten.
There are plots about criminals framing Raymond, his son’s illness, father/son relationships, two detectives trying to piece it all together and the heist that are all sewn together with the precision of Leatherface’s mask. None of it is believable and more unbearably, none of it is deep enough to worthy our attention for a full 90 minutes.
But there is Travolta’s performance. Never did we believe that he could recreate a Monet, but he was nuanced in his role and showed signs that we shouldn’t give up on the former star just yet. Unfortunately, having Travolta sit in his car doing a crossword may have been more rewarding. The Forger fails to provide entertainment and should be considered only as a possible bridge to Travolta’s future.