I love a good heist movie. Being a middle-class, nine-to-five kind of guy most of the week — I often times find myself fantasizing about pulling off the perfect heist. So, put the two together and you get a guy like me craving for a movie like “Forfeit” on a Friday night. Only problem is “Forfeit” didn’t satisfy my heist movie cravings.
“Forfeit” tells the story of Frank O’Neal, one crazy-in-the-head religious nut (and really which religious person isn’t a little Jiffy up top) who decides to return to L.A. to see if he can break bread with his old girlfriend and while he is in town, take out some revenge against those who have wronged him in the past. Hey, sounds like fun to me! Of course, Frank works as an armored car security guard which gives him access to all the wonderful things needed to setup a heist. But, unfortunately for Frank he also happens to be obsessed with a kooky televangelist that keeps popping up on TV and in his head — forcing him to loose focus on his big heist plans and kind of makes him a little cranky with that old girlfriend he is trying to make nice with again. Poor Frank, such a tortured soul… But not as tortured as some viewers of this film might be.
To be fair, Billy Burke (who you might recognize as the guy Kim Bauer babysat for in season two of “24”) does give a very nuanced and solid performance as Frank, but it is wasted on scenes that are poorly paced and could have used a little less “let’s try and be cool and swear a lot unnecessarily” dialogue. The main cast of “Forfeit” actually is a very talented bunch including Gregory Itzin (crazy president from “24,” hmm… another “24” cast member), Sherry Stringfield of “ER” fame (John Aylward plays her dad, also a known face from “ER” — I am noticing a lot of TV connections in the casting here…) and Wayne Knight (who we all know as Newman from “Seinfeld”). However, with a weak script, a talented cast can only take you so far.
Sherry Stringfield, who plays Frank’s old girlfriend appears to have to over-act in several of her scenes just to make up for the poor dialogue coming out of her mouth. Wayne Knight, who plays a fellow armored car worker with Frank, is such a natural presence on-screen now that he distracts you from whatever is actually happening in the scene. You just find yourself throughout the whole movie wondering how these actors ended up in this film. However, on a personal note, I was totally thrilled to see Steven Williams (aka Mr. X from “The X-Files” and Captain Fuller from “21 Jump Street”) appear in this movie.
If only director Andrew Shea had tried even a little to infuse the movie with some kind of visual style or flair — “Forfeit” could have been a better watch. I say this because the first half of “Forfeit” comes off very bland due to flat visual composition and lazy pacing, but around just past the half-way point of the movie, the pacing of the movie begins to really pick-up as the scenes are directed with more confidence and style and I found myself getting really engaged. Unfortunately that does not carry through to the end, again where the pacing comes to a grinding halt and directing and writing choices are brought into question.
“Forfeit” is not what you call a horrible movie, but it is not what you would call a good one either. “Forfeit” suffered from an overqualified cast and an unfocused script and director. If you are going to make a good heist movie — make a good heist movie. Not a good heist movie with aspirations of being a good religious character study movie which happens to want to be a good heist movie.