Finestkind Review: Jenna Ortega’s Charm Can’t Save This Dull Film

Finestkind (2023).

Finestkind, directed by Brian Helgeland and boasting a robust cast of actors like Ben Foster, Toby Wallace, Tommy Lee Jones, and Ismael Cruz Córdova, tries to masquerade as an invigorating crime thriller with undertones of familial bonds. While it aims to create an intoxicating cocktail of organized crime, family ties, and explosive danger, unfortunately, the blend seems unrefined and crude, which in the end, creates a poor film-watching experience.

At the heart of the movie, Finestkind tells the tale of two estranged brothers, Tom (Foster) and Charlie (Wallace), whose turbulent lives converge once again due to a reckless pact they form with a dangerous Boston crime syndicate. Caught in the perilous repercussions of their deal are their gruff father, Eldridge (Jones), and Mabel, a cryptic young woman portrayed by the marvelous Jenna Ortega.

The Bad:

Foster and Wallace in the role of troubled brothers bear the significant responsibility of being the film’s pulse, their dysfunctional dynamics being integral to the film’s narrative. Sadly, they fail to ignite the necessary chemistry needed to portray their fractured relationship convincingly. They neither anchor the emotional arc of the plot nor fully realize the critical character complexities.

Ben Foster, usually known for his intensely riveting performances, seemed surprisingly underwhelming in the role of Tom. Wallace, as Charlie, didn’t particularly impress either, failing to flesh out his character convincingly, making it hard for the audience to resonate with him. Tommy Lee Jones, a venerable veteran actor, was severely underused. His character, Eldridge, while offering fleeting moments of grizzled charisma, was otherwise muted and bland.

The plot development itself falls flat as well. It runs along a trite and predictable trajectory, rendering its supposed suspenseful and thrilling beats effectively moot. Even the noir-inspired exploration of Boston’s seedy underbelly doesn’t make enough impact, merely fading into the realm of banal predictability.

As far as crime dramas go, Finestkind just fails to deliver a compelling tale. This is largely due to its lack of originality, undeveloped characters, and misplaced pacing. Helgeland’s vision seems buried underneath the cumbersome screenplay, muddled narrative arc, and strained performances by the lead cast, except for the noteworthy performance by Ortega. The striking Boston scenery doesn’t compensate for its critical narrative flaws either.

One cannot discuss Finestkind without talking about its exploration of family dynamics. Yet, it fails to articulate the nuanced complexities of familial bonds amid a crime-fueled life effectively. This dynamic becomes reduced to simple plot points that fail to achieve any emotional weightiness.

The Good:

That said, the real gem of Finestkind is the luminary talent of Jenna Ortega as Mabel. Ortega turns an otherwise trope-ridden character into an impressive figure, exuding charisma, depth, and warmth that renders the audience’s full attention whenever she is on screen. She’s nothing short of a revelation, being one of the few beacons of redemption for this beleaguered film.

Technically speaking, Finestkind offers a competent showcase. Its cinematography tries to establish an atmosphere in keeping with the theme, and the music, while forgettable, is adequately effective. It is however in the scripting, story pacing and, most importantly, character portrayal that the movie majorly fumbles, taking the wind out of its sails.


Finestkind turns out to be a missed opportunity for an engrossing crime drama. Apart from Jenna Ortega’s captivating performance, it offers little by way of engaging characters, suspense, or intriguing narrative developments. Despite its ambitions, the film concludes as an undercooked thriller that cannot navigate its themes convincingly or affectively.

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  • Acting - 5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 4/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 4/10
  • Setting/Theme - 3/10
  • Watchability - 3/10
  • Rewatchability - 2/10
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.