They're Playing Chess, not Checkers...
Five Fingers is a captivating low-budget thriller that provides enough mystery to keep most intellegent audiences entertained. Director Laurence Malkin does something that is becoming uncanny in the context of modern film-making: He lets his screenplay and actors drive the action of his film (instead of plaguing them with special effects). Five Fingers challenges your intelligence, pulls you in conflicting directions, and provides an in-depth (yet ultimately rushed) final product.
Five Fingers stars Ryan Philippe, a mild-mannered Dutchman named Martijn who embarks on a journey to Morocco to set up a food program for its impoverished citizenry. In midst of his journey, he is kidnapped, tortured, and interrogated by a mysterious faction. Lawrence Fishburne stars as the lead interrogator, Ahmat, who is hell-bent on getting Philippe's character to open up by any means necessary. Fishburne's real-life wife, Gina Torres, stars as the second captor in command, equally as driven as Ahmat, but is often sympathetic to Martijn's increasingly desperate demands. Our job as the audience is to find truth. Who is telling it? What do all the characters seem to be hiding? Is anything in this film what it seems to be? Who can get what they want? What's everyone's next move? How can you move when your opponent has the upper hand and your losing yours? This is a movie about Chess in the context of an interrogation.
Like in Chess there are black and white (good and evil) pawns, knights, kings, and queens: characters that often move in more than one direction to ultimately achieve, checkmate. Five Fingers is an intriguing game of speed chess, not one on a masterclass level however.
Fishburne and Torres provide strong, intelligent, often menacing performances, yet Phillipe often comes off as a little underwhelming. They have great chemistry and Phillipe has his moments, but his fake dutch accent often has too much American in it. This is one of those movies where everyone is speaking English for some reason. It's a minor detail, I know, but it's a pet peeve that I'm starting to have in the realm of cinema.
The story is solid overall but it has holes that are never filled. It is filled with some plot twists you don't see coming and some you do. Additionally, I'm not sure what Malkin has to say on the 8th Amendment of the Constitution and he should have provided some insight on it in the closing moments of this film. The ending was terribly rushed and I'm sure many people will feel cheated. The film needed to be at least five or ten minutes longer near the end, in order to explain somethings, it really could have been something better. Sometimes movies need to take a step back and just answer the often unanswerable question of "why"?
This film is very short, running just under 90 minutes. An obvious symptom of a low budget. The film looks great and it is a very commendable achievement for a film on a very strict budget. I recommend Five Fingers (a lame title for the movie by the way) for those who love original, intelligent, thrillers.-- B-