Essentially an “X-Files” episode but with determined single parents instead of mismatched FBI agents in the lead roles, “The Forgotten” starts out as an intriguing paranoia thriller that sadly falls into a conventional schlock trap all too early on. Yet driven forward by solid emotional performances, a hectic dis-jarring sense of pacing and atmosphere, and some inventive use of simple special effects it turns out to have more going for it than most movies of the admittedly not so great genre.
The first half hour is where the potential lies – thrown quickly into the situation we learn of a woman grieving over her son’s loss right at the film’s start and within minutes are told she made it all up. These scenes revolve around Moore’s sadness and confusion, and the actress lays it quite bare with quite powerful moments of her breakdown and loss early on. Then the questions begin – is she merely insane or is there something else going on here?
Through much of these early scenes when the questions remain unanswered, the film’s compelling premise and surprisingly stylish direction make it fascinating viewing. Unfortunately then the Hollywood conventions start to come in – swarthy NSA G-men and talk of conspiracies lead to some decent chase sequences but as things progress and the mystery gets explained – everything is spelled out too early on and ultimately finishing with an unbelievable and all too happy ending.
Still, kudos should go out to the cast who rise above the material – not just Moore but Dominic West makes for a likable male lead opposite Moore, whilst Alfre Woodard has an enjoyable supporting part in the film even if the character fits poorly into the whole flow. Sinise and Edwards are left with little to do, whilst Roache is given a standard one-dimensional character which he sadly never gets to expand on.
Compliments also to the production personnel. Director Joseph Ruben makes a splash here – although the main twist is spoiled too early, much of the film he handles the reveals and mysteries quite taughtly and throws in some great shock moments such as a real seat-jumping car crash. The use of interesting camera angles combined with various effects from cloud/face manipulation to the film’s signature ‘mid-air yank’ trick are simple and yet work everytime on screen.
Yet, the script sadly has too many holes and not much substantial too it. In the end it raises a lot of questions which are never properly answered. Character actions and motivations are skipped over in favour of shock value or chase scenes. The later scenes, especially the end, all seem to cut short a lot of logic and reason in favour of resolving the main story and thus undermines it all.
One also has to ask who this is aimed at – the film in many ways seems marketed at the more “Sixth Sense” style audience, but only the most hardcore sci-fi buffs will truly get their joys out of it – it’s all too serious throughout some truly silly moments which turns it into near camp at times. A far more ambiguous tone and less ‘out there’ style second half which continued to play up the film’s early angle about whether this is all in Moore’s head or not would’ve yielded a better movie.