SCREENED AT THE 2006 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: There are many avenues at which I can discuss Five Fingers, but its one of those films where its twists and turns prevent me from expounding on them in any length so as to preserve its secrets. Even its penultimate reasoning comes with a political and moral ramification so ripe that it hurts not to express any agreement or variance from any belief system. I suppose I could go all “spoiler warning” on you but then anyone with any interest will avoid the review until after they’ve seen it and by then it will have been too late to warn them that the film is just average, a bit manipulative and is little more than a stagy adaptation of a play which never existed featuring more of a battle of the accents rather than will.Martijn (Ryan Phillippe) is a Dutch businessman on his way to Morocco to pitch his presentation of a “food program.” Leaving behind the stunning eyes of his girlfriend (Touriya Haoud), he’s met at the airport by professional bodyguard, Gavin (Colm Meaney) who knows the harsh truths about white businessmen running afoul of the local body snatchers. Martijn might consider looking for a refund, as the pair are almost immediately grabbed by Laurence Fishburne’s Ahmet and his band of merry terrorists.
After Gavin takes a few bullets for disrespecting their intentions (well before they’ve even announced them), Martijn starts fearing for the worst such as the terrorists whipping out the chess metaphor for the conversation they’re about to have. After missing his move (so to speak), Martijn is given first-hand knowledge on why the teachers told us to be careful with that paper slicer. Ahmet wants answers about that “food program” but Martijn doesn’t have the right ones and so one, ah-two, ah-three, AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!! Ah-THRrrrEE!
Those hoping for a graphic depiction of how to ruin a piano player’s career should look elsewhere as its mostly sound effects, loud screams and a blackout-to-a-flashback of happier times. Chad Thurmann and director Laurence Malkin’s script tries to find a Mamet rhythm to its repeating dialogue and it works in fits and spurts when the actors aren’t placing an extra accentuation on their dialect (“Mar-TINE!”). Malkin also doesn’t bog things down to where we feel we’re just watching a somewhat-brainier version of Saw, but keeps the pacing of the 80-minute film tight. Although the more cards he shows, the less outs he has in keeping the audience from guessing where its all headed.By the end of Five Fingers, audiences are cornered into a discussion about their own moral beliefs and politics and its unclear whether a statement was just made or the filmmakers themselves are on the fence. Fishburne somehow manages to overcome the trappings of what could easily have been a laughably cartoonish role and Philippe keeps the twists and turns of the plot in check through his thick Dutch accent. Wish I could tell you more about it, but the truth is, there isn’t that much to tell.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2006 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.