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Directed by A.J. Rickert-Epstein
Written by A.J. Rickert-Epstein and James Francis Flynn
Starring Chris Cowan, Daniel Davidson and Lisbet Portman
Everybody knows Chris - he’s the friendly local guy that never did anything to hurt anyone and was only concerned with his next drink of lemonade and how to ask Stephanie out on a date. Alas, the mysterious and possibly unhinged scientist, Dr London, has other plans for Chris; dastardly plans that will change his life – and his fingers – forever...
Back in 2003, a short film called Fingerman: First Blood appeared in the FXhome.com cinema. Four years later, director A.J. Rickert-Epstein (aka ajjax44) is back with a brand new feature film that reinvents the concept to a staggering degree.
Many elements remain, such as Rickert-Epstein’s collaboration with actor Chris Cowan (aka CX3, also known for his directing work on the X3i series and the recent Diggers cult viral ads), who once again brings a touching and amusing innocence to the lead character and, of course, Fingerman’s main superpower: a Rambo-worthy arsenal of weapons erupting from nothing more than his pointing fingers. Fans will also be pleased to hear that The Mime is back.
Added into the mix is an almost overwhelming collection of new characters, from the ambiguous Dr London (Daniel Davidson) to Larry the Lemonade Guy (Noah Applebaum), henchman Clinton (the fantastic Stephen Wolery, on loan from the X3i series), love interest Stephanie (Lisbet Portman, luminous and perfectly cast) and the almost certainly psychotic Mr. Clay (Rickert-Epstein himself doubling up actor and director duties). That’s without even mentioning the vast array of supporting roles, side plots and hints of a backstory that reveal the motivations of the Triangle Force.
Somehow, miraculously, it works. Rickert-Epstein’s managed to tie together disparate acting styles, plots and genres to create a hugely entertaining superhero-martial arts-sci-fi-drama-comedy. Fingerman is a chameleon of a film, switching effortlessly from b-movie pastiche to genuinely exciting (and often hilarious) action, then transforming to become a crowd-pleasing rom-com. It’s similar in approach to Shaun of the Dead’s slick genre-blending, albeit with more absurdist and fantastical comedy.
Rickert-Epstein’s secret weapon is his cast. More often than not the weak point in low-budget movies, here the actors rise to the occasion, each delivering memorable performances even for the minor supporting roles. Some of the cast we’ve seen in prior productions from Rickert-Epstein or Cowan, with mixed results – Stephen Wolery has always been an imposing physical presence in the X3i series, but has also had to deal with a tricky sub-Wolverine growly character. In Fingerman he finally gets to flex his comedic muscles and really shines. Darren Bailey is also remarkably funny as Smiley, one of Dr London’s cronies that lives up to his name, while Daniel Davidson hams it up magnificently as the lead villain.
Then there’s Chris Cowan, of course, stepping back into the Fingerman shoes as if he’d never left – pirouetting his way down a street without a care in the world, retaining all the quirks of the short film but also bringing a real compassion to the character. Fingerman has always been a remarkable side-step for Cowan, selflessly abandoning the ‘cool’ persona seen in most of his performances (X3i and Daywalker to name but two) and delivering a geeky, awkward and yet entirely loveable creation.
Two actors stand out from the ensemble, however. First up is Noah Applebaum, playing Larry, a lemonade stall salesman who is never without opinion or insight on the latest situation. Rickert-Epstein wisely unleashes Applebaum's improvisational skills, with the semi-regular lemonade stand interludes becoming increasingly anticipated throughout the movie. Applebaum’s comedy skills should take him a long way – don’t be surprised to see him in much higher profile films in years to come.
Lisbet Portman plays Stephanie, a slightly wacky girl who somehow is the perfect match for the soon-to-be Fingerman. Portman and Cowan’s scenes sparkle, helped by some of the movie’s best writing – specifically a quiet conversation on a garden bench that has a real warmth while remaining extremely funny. She really shines when on her own, clearly relishing Stephanie’s more kooky side and turning what could have been a generic love interest into a far more memorable character.
Topping all this off is a brilliant musical score, the songs at times taking a similar approach to those in Team America, snappy and inspired editing that jumps around but never feels dislocated and a great eye for witty cinematography.
Fingerman: Dr London and the Triangle Force is a towering achievement in the low-budget arena. No excuses need to be made here: it stands comfortably tall amongst more 'professional' productions and should serve as a calling card for all concerned. The cast and crew have certainly come a long way in a few short years – their next step is eagerly awaited.
The Fingerman team are currently searching for a distributor. As soon as the movie is available we’ll let you know, as it needs to be seen! In the meantime, we’ve got an exclusive interview with AJ coming up soon, so keep an eye on the news page!