Finestkind (2023) Review: Cliches That Go Against the Grain

The movie Finestkind is streaming on Paramount+ Friday

Finestkind Review FandomWire
Finestkind Review FandomWire


  • The movie Finestkind is set to stream on Paramount+ from Friday, December 15th, 2023.
  • "The Finestkind" has its third-act flaws. However, the critics who point out the film's cliches fail to admit that the tropes used go against the grain of conventional crime thriller fare.
  • At FandomWire, we give the new Tommy Lee Jone's film 6/10.
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Finestkind is a film that is The Salt of the Earth, the type of movie that might be seen as coming from 1970s cinema. It has a gritty story with themes of family, loyalty, and memories that can never be quite shaken. Enhancing the gritty narrative is the setting and the cast of weathered actors, improving the tone and atmosphere.

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This keeps the movie as grounded as it can be. Considering the wild turns Brian Helgeland’s script takes, this is something that Finestkind sorely needed. However, when actors like Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Foster, and Toby Wallace are in the roles, nothing about their performances will be sensationalized.


The result is a straightforward, authentic family crime thriller that works based on the parameters Mr. Helgeland has set for the audience. Yes, there are third-act flaws, but Finestkind’s critics who point out the film’s cliches fail to admit that the tropes used go against the grain of conventional crime thriller fare.

Finestkind (2023)
Ben Foster in the Finestkind (2023) | Image via Paramount+

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Paramount+’s Finestkind’s Plot Summary and Review

Finestkind follows two half-brothers, blue-collar Tom (Ben Foster) and white-collar Charlie (Toby Wallace). Both brothers share the same mother, Donna (Lolita Davidovich), who divorced Tom’s father, Eldridge (Tommy Lee Jones), a high-seas fisherman. Charlie’s father, Gary (Tim Daly), is a highly paid mouthpiece for big firms specializing in criminal defense.

Despite being raised under incredibly different circumstances, the two have remained close, as Eldridge says, as brothers should. Charlie (Toby Wallace) graduated with a degree in English and was accepted into the pre-law program at Boston University. Despite this, Charlie wants to spend the summer as a deckhand on the “Finestkind,” the name of Tom’s family fishing vessel.


It’s dangerous work, and Gary wants Charlie to be a clerk at his law firm. However, Charlie is a free spirit who wants to experience life in the open, not in an office. Charlie’s nonconformist nature leads him to Mabel (Jenna Ortega), a young woman and sister of one of the crew. Mabel’s home life interests the brothers in alarming ways, endangering the future of everyone involved.

Finestkind (2023)
Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Foster in the Finestkind (2023) | Image via Paramount+

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Finestkind uses cliches that go against the grain of conventional crime thrillers

Mr. Helgeland’s Finestkind script owes a debt to East of Eden, used as the outline of two brothers raised in different environments. The scribe who wrote L.A. Confidential has Foster playing Tom as moody, resentful, and a rulebreaker. Wallace is kind, empathetic, and relatively innocent regarding working-class matters. However, there’s no one Tom loves more in life than Charlie.

The script, however, doesn’t delve into the “dethronement” effect. The script decides that the brothers should stay loyal to each other. This may be uninteresting to some. However, hands in this genre rarely make this choice, which seems safe but is braver than most. Instead of the brothers betraying each other, the drama is driven by their support.


Finestkind is at its cinematic best when it concentrates on the family issues that triangulate between the brothers and their parents. Again, setting aside the trope, Mr. Helgeland has Tommy Lee Jones’s character warmly accept and welcome Charlie. He knows family for his son Tom is essential, and love outweighs any bitterness a young version of himself would have embraced.

Tobey Wallace and Jenna Ortega in the Finestkind (2023) | Image via Paramount+

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Is Finestkind Worth Watching?

Finestkind suffers from third-act problems but is worth watching based on the performances and gripping story from the writer/director. No one plays the “Big Brother Protector” better than Foster, and Jones’s mug is perfect for any working-class account. Also, while you should be able to find the third act entertaining, you can not argue the fact that it’s predictable from a plot resolution standpoint.

Does the script wrap up all too nicely? Yes. Is the ending a bit too melodramatic, even eye-rolling? Sure, especially when letting your son make a colossal mistake. Yet, the ones who hold Finestkind’s choice against them fail to realize they prefer the usual cliche over the one Mr. Helgeland has chosen. These are brave choices, not safe or lazy ones.


Finestkind does something that most thrillers refuse: embrace family differences with acceptance. Imagine that, after a bloody finale, the story begins to reveal itself. Fathers and sons do what they must to protect and champion the next generation. That may make for a less vigorous and engaging finale, but that doesn’t detract from the overall entertainment value.

Finestkind (2023)
Ben Foster and Tobey Wallace in the Finestkind (2023) | Image via Paramount+

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Finestkind is set to stream on Paramount+ this Friday.


6 out of 10

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Written by M.N. Miller

M.N. Miller is a film and television critic and a proud member of the Las Vegas Film Critic Society, Critics Choice Association, and a 🍅 Rotten Tomatoes/Tomato meter approved. He holds a Bachelor's Degree from Mansfield University and a Master's from Chamberlain University. However, he still puts on his pants one leg at a time, and that's when he usually stumbles over. When not writing about film or television, he patiently waits for the next Pearl Jam album and chooses to pass the time by scratching his wife's back on Sunday afternoons while she watches endless reruns of California Dreams. M.N. Miller was proclaimed the smartest reviewer alive by actor Jason Isaacs but chose to ignore his obvious sarcasm. You can also find his work on Hidden Remote, InSession Film, Ready Steady Cut, Geek Vibes Nation, and Nerd Alert.