Simon Baker and Paz Vega headline Not Forgotten, a meandering, Tex-Mex, give-me-back-my-daughter air-quote thriller that plays like a wayward cousin of Angel Heart, some juju potboiler and a lost, half-sketched Zalman King flick. Fans of Baker will perhaps spark to his crusading, paternally protective ways, but general audiences will lose interest long before the movie’s forced twist ending.
Not Forgotten unfolds in Del Rio, a small, peaceful Texas border town. Jack Bishop (The Mentalist‘s Baker) is a picture-perfect husband to new wife Amaya (Vega), and a doting father to his 11-year-old daughter Toby (Chlore Moretz). But when she’s kidnapped, Jack dives headlong into a Mexican hell of barrios and bordellos controlled by the mysterious La Santa Muerte, a sort of religious criminal sect. Working with a newly appointed sheriff and a pair of wary federal agents, Jack vows to track down her abductors no matter the cost; when initial suspect Calvo Huerta (Zahn McClarnon) proves little more than a patsy, however, Jack finds disturbing answers tied up in his complicated past. Borat‘s Ken Davitian, Michael DeLorenzo, Claire Forlani and Benito Martinez all co-star.
An enchanting actress who, given the opportunity, can play alluring and dangerous without merely clanging the one-note keys of “the exotic other,” Vega (Sex and Lucia, Spanglish) here isn’t given much with which to work, though she does kindly reveal her ass, which is a thing of special beauty. She, in her small role, and Baker, in the lead, offer up committed performances, but the characters are more or less ciphers, and their personalities change to suit the necessary actions of any given scene. It doesn’t much help that Not Forgotten will not let audiences forget that they are watching a capital-M movie, by gosh, so pointlessly full of stylized flashbacks is it. The sum effect of its familiar disparate parts — some jittery camerawork here, an Eyes Wide Shut-type masked sequence there, and a pinch of Mexican strip club salaciousness to boot — bores rather than intrigues. By the time an old lady starts spinning a yarn about “the cranes of the lost city of Aztlan,” one wants to pat her on her filthy head and book a flight back to the American ‘burbs, far away from this affectedly grimy, bizarre and alien setting.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case in turn stored in a cardboard slipcover, Not Forgotten comes to DVD presented in 2:35:1 widescreen, preserving the aspect ratio of the movie’s limited theatrical exhibition. Audio is presented in the form of a Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound track, which nicely complements the dialogue with moody background ambiance when the situations call for it. A feature-length audio commentary track with co-writer/producer/director Dror Soref and co-writer/associate producer
Tomas Romero is the best of an otherwise spare slate of supplemental extras; the pair yawningly compliment themselves on a few lines, but also talk about the challenges of shooting on location (noise you can’t always control being the biggest hurdle), and point out stage-shot insertions and green-screen composites that one otherwise wouldn’t guess or recognize. A six-minute behind-the-scenes featurette includes some on-set footage, but no interview chats with the cast, unfortunately — only more material with Soref and Romero. The theatrical trailer is also included. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. C- (Movie) C+ (Disc)