Five Fingers Reviews
Ryan Phillipe is the lead man in this low budget thriller directed by Laurence Malkin, and released back in 2006. It's a direct-to-DVD release that didn't have the opportunity to hit cinemas. This is one of many films I have seen as of late that have flown under the radar, and actually turned out to be very good.
After seeing Breach (2007) with the lead role also going to Phillipe, I really got a feel for how good of an actor he is. He's not of the tough guy persona. Size, bad-ass attitude and what not, but more so a very intellectually sound man. (in his films) With Five Fingers, your introduced to a foreign character, a Dutchman with an accent I don't hear much. It was a little odd from Phillipe, but I got used to it. On his way to Morocco for a food charity type of deal, he's kidnapped by two Moroccan terrorists, and taken to what appears to be an abandoned warehouse. We are then introduced to the head of the group, who happens to be good ol' Lawrence Fishburne. While this may not be his best performance, it sure was good.
What happens from there on may bore viewers with very small attention spans, but then again maybe not. It's a whole lot of interrogation tactics, a chess match, and then more talking. That's exactly what I was expecting, so I enjoyed the conversations very much. The chemistry between the two of them was enthralling and a joy to watch, and it kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what in the heck the protagonist was going to in order to escape his situation. The terrorists also torture him a little bit, attempting to reveal his true identity.
Five Fingers is a pretty basic movie with good acting and some pretty sharp dialogue. It also packs one of the most clever film endings I've seen in awhile. Not all movie-goers will find this flick very useful, but for those of you who enjoy this type, then have fun! take it for what it is, and don't let it fly under your radar.
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-
And although the blurb on the DVD case prepares you for a surprise at the end and makes it a bit predictable there are still some twists and turns that come quite unexpected. Of particular note is of course Fishburne's performance. Worth noting is also that the DVD cover can be deceiving: in Germany it only shows a maimed hand (which reminds me a bit of Saw). But: the physical violence is not the focus of this film but rather the tension and verbal struggles between its two main characters. In fact, the film is so dialog-heavy that it's been compared to a play. Of course, this is not a film to watch a second time once you know the story but it's well worth the first time.