Judge Eric Profancik has not forgotten, and he never will.
Our review of Not Forgotten, published December 11th, 2009, is also available.
The prayers of the dead are about to be answered.
We all tire of the same stories, plots, and complications in movies. It seems Hollywood sticks with a few tried and true (a.k.a. tired) ideas and tweaks them ad infinitum to churn out new movies. Old ideas bore us and we pounce on something fresh and new, craving something we've not seen before. Not Forgotten, for me, is a new take on an old idea. The question is, how well does it work?
Facts of the Case
Jack Bishop (Simon Baker, The Mentalist) works for a bank in the small town of Del Rio, Texas, which sits right on the border with Mexico. He is a widower but has recently married the beautiful Amaya (Paz Vega, The Spirit), and is father to his precocious daughter, Toby (Chloe Moretz, My Friends Tigger and Pooh). Life seems pretty good for the Bishop family until Toby is kidnapped. This horrible situation will compel Jack to revisit his past, visit Mexico, and uncover a secret that has been years in the making.
Not Forgotten is a movie harboring a secret. It takes the slow boil route to get you to that big reveal, dropping subtle hints along the way. To get there, the movie presents many a hint, innuendo, allusion, homage, and subtext to religion. Not just any religion, but an esoteric and strange outshoot of Catholicism called La Santa Muerte. Is it a devout adoration of the Virgin Mary or is it devil worship? That's a question posited in our journey with Jack Bishop.
Skipping to that "big" ending, I must admit I enjoyed the twist the movie threw at me. It was a decent payoff to a story that didn't entirely make sense until that point. And it was one I didn't see coming until it was staring back at me. I wasn't sure that I would like Not Forgotten, but it does redeem itself with its clever plotting. But there's also a problem with the plotting; it's plodding. It takes our movie quite a long time to put all of the pieces in place, dragging on, letting my attention wander. What's the point of this? Why is she doing that? When is something going to happen? I'll admit part of my dismay with the first half of the movie is that I wasn't getting all the allusions and hints coming at me. I was simply in "view mode" and wasn't looking for clues beyond the superficial, so I was doing the movie a disservice by not working with it. Still, a movie should work even for slightly disinterested viewers like me.
With that said, Not Forgotten isn't a great movie. It's a fairly standard idea—happy family torn asunder by big peril—with just a different flavor to it. The ending makes it different only in that I haven't seen such motivation in a protagonist before; yet all the rest is fairly standard. My praise, lukewarm as it is, is probably some of the kinder words given to the film, which was given an insignificant theatrical release before arrived on video.
I believe this is my first Blu from Anchor Bay, and upon seeing their name I had a fleeting thought that this disc might not be one of the better ones I'll ever watch. That's an unfair prejudice, but it is based on lackluster results I've had with some of their DVDs. Though not a bad disc, Not Forgotten isn't a great one; it's right in the middle. The 2.40:1, 1080p video transfer is a bit hard to judge because of director Dror Soref's choice of palettes. The beginning of the movie often appears washed out, oversaturated, with unnatural colors and weak blacks. Detail and definition in the early stages of the movie is mixed but usually skews a bit soft. In the latter half of the movie, as the tone of the movie gets darker, so literally does the movie. All the warmth and light is sucked away, shifting to many a dark scene. In this case, blacks are often muddy, making it difficult to see exactly what's going on in scenes. Overall, the movie isn't as crisp and clear as it should be—but Blu should be able to handle this well. I noticed a few instances in a couple of panning shots of background objects aliasing and stuttering. The uncompressed PCM 5.1 mix also has a few problems with the foremost being inconsistent recording levels. Many a time I simply couldn't hear the dialogue and found I had to rewind, turn it up, or turn on the subtitles. It wasn't because of other background sounds; it was just the voices dropped to a mere whisper. For the majority of the movie, there's not much use for the surrounds or subwoofer; but at the end of the movie, as we spend more time in Mexico, we get a big kick in ambience and bass power. I was pleased by the random, quality use of subtle surrounds (e.g. a nice, distant wolf howl), but I was displeased by a few snaps I heard from the rear speakers. (I listened to these snaps several times, and I'm unsure if it's part of the mix or an error. It sounds more to the latter than the former.) In all, the sound design, in essence, mirrors the palette choices.
The disc comes with just a few bonus items. First is an audio commentary track by Dror Soref and Tomás Romero (co-writer and associate producer). It was a better commentary than I was expecting. The two share a bunch of information about their thoughts on the movie, making the movie, and other background information that helped make Not Forgotten "better" in my mind…after the fact. They just fleshed out a lot of details that weren't readily apparent as I watched (e.g. the religious bits). Next is a making-of featurette (6:20) narrated by Soref that gives an overall summation of the movie. The odd part is that it is recorded horribly, like someone from a high school A/V club. Last up is the theatrical trailer.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
How about a little love for the actors in Not Forgotten? In retrospect I realized that the actors do very good work in the movie, taking a combination of old and new ideas and presenting it with fresh energy. Everyone fell into their roles, making it believable, and I'll give special props to the young Chloe Moretz, who plays Toby. She gives a quality performance for someone her age.
Not Forgotten is a movie with big ideas, big plans, and big desires. It wants to present something new to us, bringing in different religious perspectives and keeping us off balance by juxtaposing the worlds of a dangerous Mexico and a sleepy United States. Yet if it weren't for the ending, there wouldn't be any reason to talk about the movie. It's a fairly straightforward tale with a twist, and that tale does not unfold in a riveting fashion. Add to that transfers that are somewhat sketchy and bonus materials that aren't all that special and I'm not sure this is one you need to buy. At best, it's a rental but that's a bit of a stretch as well. It's one you can wait to see on cable.
Not Forgotten is hereby found guilty of…of…of…oh, I
forgot what it was.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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