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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Not Forgotten (Blu-ray)
Not Forgotten (Blu-ray)
Starz / Anchor Bay // R // October 6, 2009 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted November 1, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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Strap in! Brace yourself! This is the part where a snarky online movie reviewer makes an obvious pun like "how could a flick named Not Forgotten be this forgettable?"

Hey, Jack Bishop (Simon Baker) has done pretty well for himself in the wake of his first wife's untimely death. He's a pillar of the community, even, doling out loans at his small-town bank and coaching one of the local soccer teams. His precocious daughter Toby (Chloe Moretz) is about to turn twelve, and he's even managed to find love again from the other side of the border with Amaya (Paz Vega). Things are getting a little prickly with Toby, sure, but...c'mon, she's a kid. It's nothing out of the ordinary, at least until Jack shows up to soccer practice one day to find a couple of the assistant coaches searching frantically for his daughter. He knows that Toby has been kidnapped, not that he can prove it, and there's no motive, no ransom demands...nothing. Though the feds seem to be making some progress investigating local pedophiles, Jack suspects that the answers he's seeking lay just across the border in the seedy Mexican town of Acuña. The more he takes matters into his own hands, the clearer it becomes to those around him that Jack isn't Jack at all...that his unexpected ties to the sticky underbelly of Mexican ganglands and even the occult point to someone else entirely.

I've gotta admit that I waltzed into Not Forgotten expecting more of a supernatural angle. The movie doesn't exactly veer away from that early on -- Toby swiping some sort of artifact from a sect of Mexican
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mystics, hints of animal sacrifice, Jack being tormented by an onslaught of bizarre and distorted faces -- but all of that's quickly tossed out the driver's side window. That's the frustrating thing about Not Forgotten, really; it seems too much like an uneasy mix of several completely different genres, scattering its focus so awkwardly that it never really has a chance to nail any of 'em. The mystical end of things winds up being half-baked. The occult definitely plays a role, but a couple of spooky faces aside, there's nothing more supernatural than your average episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. The movie seems as if it's very carefully trying to retrace the same steps as A History of Violence as it tears into Jack's dark, sticky past, but it never really manages to wring that same sort of suspense and tension out of it. There's a really terrific sequence with Jack prepping a seedy motel room for an inevitable attack and beating the holy hell out of an assassin once he does bust in, but that's really the only time Jack's ever unleashed. When Jack does embrace the occult, it's either cut off too quickly or is ridiculously, cartoonishly exaggerated, and it has the same complete lack of an impact either way.

The twists and seemingly neverending parade of betrayals don't do much to set Not Forgotten apart from...well, much of anything, ever. At least there's some "...the hell?" moments that do make the movie stand out, like a gaggle of Mexican shemales that wind up being a not-insignificant plot point and Claire Forlani vamping it up as a telenovela-flavored villainess with paintroller makeup. With the exception of that cranked-up-to-eleven crowd, the rest of the characters and the performances behind 'em are all kind of bland. On the other hand, it's directed by Dror Soref, the guy behind the video for "I Love Rocky Road", and UHF's Gedde Watanabe even pops up as an FBI agent. Being able to pick out a couple of Weird Al connections like that is more interesting than pretty much anything in Not Forgotten itself, an agonizingly uneven thriller that can't decide if it wants to be routine or ridiculous. Rent It.

I have to admit to being surprised to see what look like 35mm film cameras in the behind-the-scenes snippets on this disc. With as smooth and clear as the photography looks, I assumed Not Forgotten had to have been shot natively on digital video. A very fine sheen of grain reveals itself when I inch in close to the screen, but I couldn't spot anything like that at a normal viewing distance. Not Forgotten generally looks terrific in high-def: crisp, clean, and nicely detailed. Its stylized visuals drain away much of the color, but the hues that remain pack more of a wallop on Blu-ray than I'd expect them to on DVD. Contrast tends to be flat, although I'd imagine that's part of that same stab at stylization as well. A few scenes that are supposed to be smoky or steamy wind up having too much of a blown-out haze, though, and some of the sequences with Jack puttering around in bathrooms have such an overly digital look to them that I'm even more surprised to discover that this was all shot on film. The only overwhelmingly glaring flaw is some excessive banding, and I'm not really sure how that could've made it through any sort of Q/A pass. Otherwise, Not Forgotten looks great on Blu-ray, at least for those who aren't distracted by this sort of heavily stylized photography.

Not Forgotten is served up on a single-layer Blu-ray disc, and the 2.39:1, 1080p video has been encoded with VC-1.

Not Forgotten sports a reasonably atmospheric PCM 5.1 soundtrack. There's not a strong sense of imaging or directionality -- primarily things like crowd noise at a soccer game or the roaring nightlife south of the border -- but the mix still keeps the rears chattering constantly throughout. A few effects do heighten the intensity a bit, though, such as a blast of flashbulbs from every direction, flames devouring everything in sight, and some subtle directionality as a window shatters in the right rear channel. The low-end is thick and meaty when it needs to be, especially the throbbing bass of all that Mexican-flavored dance music. The music overall is rendered extremely well, and I'm especially impressed by the clarity of the plucked strings in the score. The film's dialogue comes through cleanly and clearly as well, and there's only one scene in a skeevy strip club where it didn't seem balanced quite as effectively as I would've liked. This is a solid effort, especially considering that Not Forgotten's low-key approach doesn't really lend itself to anything much more aggressive than this.

Not Forgotten also serves up a Dolby Digital 5.1 track (640 Kbps) and optional English subtitles (SDH). Some of the Spanish dialogue in the film is accompanied by burned-in English subs.

  • Audio Commentary: I guess
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    this is where I gripe again about the commentary track only being listed under the setup menu rather than alongside the rest of the extras. This chat with director/producer/co-writer Dror Soref and co-writer/associate producer Tomás Romero is okay -- definitely quippy and laidback -- but taking another peek at my notes, I didn't really find all that many highlights to scribble down. As much as the jokes they lob out crack each other up, their sense of humor isn't exactly infectious. They seem to enjoy talking more about shooting locations and local color than diving into the meat of the film itself, and it all started to run together after a while. A few scattered things of note anyway: getting revenge on a prick they didn't like by using a rejiggered version of his name for a pedophile, Simon Baker accidentally smashing part of the set when his character throws a tantrum, why exactly the Yaqui play a kinda-sorta-key role in the film, and starting to shoot a Catholic service without much of anyone around actually knowing the Lord's Prayer. Oops. They also lob out comparisons and nods to everything from E.T. to Belle de Jour, although they lose oodles of points for forgetting the title of Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. This commentary isn't bad enough to steer clear of entirely or anything, but I wouldn't really recommend setting aside an hour and a half to give it a listen either.

    The two of them mention several deleted scenes -- although I'm not sure if they were snipped out during the writing process or if they were ever fully polished -- but none of 'em managed to claw their way onto this Blu-ray disc.

  • Not Forgotten: Behind the Scenes (6 min.; SD): The disc's making-of featurette sticks to the standard issue formula: talking head interviews with a heavily promotional bent, plenty of clips from the flick, and a few scattered behind-the-scenes snippets. Soref and Romero pop up again to breeze through some of the main talking points -- shrugging off the more traditional white hat vs. badnik storyline, the movie's religious undertones, and the concept of perception vs. reality -- but it seems like it's aimed more at people who haven't watched Not Forgotten than anyone who's already shelled out twenty bucks for this Blu-ray disc.

  • Trailer (2 min.; SD): Last up is a standard def theatrical trailer.
The Final Word
Kind of a room temperature blend of Taken, A History of Violence, and...beats me, something with Mexican curses, I guess, Not Forgotten is awkwardly trying to juggle several completely different movies but struggles to keep even one of those balls in the air at a time. The supernatural angle is half-baked, pretty much all of the action is crammed into the space of a couple of minutes, it's too erratic to build all that much suspense...no, not recommended so much. If you've gotta see Not Forgotten, I'd say Rent It.

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