Crime Drama

Hook, Line and Stinker: A TIFF Review of ‘Finestkind’

September 10, 2023Ben MK

Of all the regions in all of America, one of the areas filmmakers seem to most have a love affair with is Massachusetts. Whether it's the distinctive Boston and New England accents, the scenery, or something else entirely, the state has served as the backdrop for everything from rom-coms like Fever Pitch to crime thrillers like The Departed. And in Finestkind, A Knight's Tale director Brian Helgeland is following in those movies' footsteps, in this family drama/action thriller centered on the various ups and downs of the residents of a tight-knit New Bedford fishing community.

Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Foster and Jenna Ortega, the film follows half-brothers Tom (Foster) and Charlie (Toby Wallace), two siblings almost two decades apart in age who each ended up on a very different path from the other. The son of town grump Ray Eldridge (Jones), Tom chose to continue the family legacy and become a fishing boat captain, while Charlie, the son of legal professional Dennis Sykes (Tim Daly), has just been accepted into Boston University law school. However, when Charlie decides to join his older brother and try his hand at fishing for the summer, it sets the pair on a shared trajectory that will change their family forever. It's a tumultuous couple of months that will see the brothers and their shipmates, Costa (Ismael Cruz Cordova), Nunes (Scotty Tovar) and Skeemo (Aaron Stanford), lose not one but two seaworthy vessels. But when Charlie and his new girlfriend Mabel (Ortega) broker a deal to run some drugs for ruthless criminal Pete Weeks (Clayne Crawford), it may very well end up being the last time any of them get to see safe harbor.

Unfortunately, the result is the kind of movie that ultimately adds up to far less than the sum of its parts. For while its plot is certainly jam-packed, that's also one of Finestkind's biggest flaws. An aimless mishmash of genres that doesn't know whether it wants to be a marine disaster film, a family drama or a crime thriller, it's a frustrating exercise in storytelling that would have been better off never leaving port.

Finestkind screens under the Gala Presentations programme at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 6 min.

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