Simon Baker is fantastic in TV's The Mentalist, but he generally doesn't have good luck with movies unless there's a "devil" involved. His only big hit film was, of course, The Devil Wears Prada, which has nothing to do with the supernatural devil that he encounters in Not Forgotten.
His character is not the cool, collected and aloof guy he plays in The Mentalist, so it shows a different side of Baker—actually, a lot of sides.
In this indie thriller, which takes place in a Mexican border town, he's Jack Bishop (sounding suspiciously like 24's Jack Bauer), a mild-mannered soccer dad who's married to the smoking and sensual Amaya (played by Paz Vega). They are bringing up a daughter, Toby (Chloe Moretz), who's from Bishop's first marriage. And Bishop seems to have a secret. He says he can't speak any Spanish, but at times he spouts off incantations in the language. He obviously has a past he's not telling anyone about.
His daughter gets kidnapped from soccer practice, and it seems like this is going to be one of those movies about the brutal drug trafficking on the Mexican border that's been in the news so much lately.
Enter the ghosts and demons with the religious cult of Santa Muerte. It's an offshoot of the Catholic Church that flourishes among the dregs of society, mostly pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and lost souls.
Bishop heads out to investigate the kidnapping himself, and he tries out a few of the Santa Muerte tactics, like a very uncomfortable scene that takes place in a bathroom where he builds a tiny funeral pyre out of sink parts, puts a picture on top and cuts his wrists before burning the photo.
The cast has a strong SF history. Moretz is a loud screamer who debuted as a kid in the Amityville Horror remake a few years ago. One of the FBI agents investigating the kidnapping is played by Mark Rolston, who was in Aliens and Robocop 2, and another deputy is played by Melinda Page Hamilton, who had a recurring part as Feezal Phlox on Star Trek: Enterprise. Claire Forlani is from Meet Joe Black, and Julia Vera is from the X-Files TV show, in which she played Lana Chee in three episodes.
But that strong cast of memorable faces doesn't save a story that's filled with plot problems.
The story is narrated by the kidnapped little girl, which is unnerving at first. Also, every character seems to have his own motivations, and not all of them make complete sense. The director, Dror Soref, is a veteran of music videos, which often yields some good directors. Soref co-wrote the screenplay with Tomas Romero.
Unfortunately, Simon Baker has shirt off more than Paz Vega does, and more than he ever does on The Mentalist. Ultimately, he may want this movie to be forgotten on his resume.