From director Michael Matthews comes his feature film debut Five Fingers for Marseilles, a South African-based Western following Tau (Vuyo Dabula), a young lion who is part of a gang trying to protect his small village from the corrupt police. Only he goes too far, forcing him into hiding, until he returns 20 years later to find the town still being controlled and he must help give the residence their freedom.
The story here dives into the Western genre, one we rarely get anymore, and this brings us the modernised Western formula that the best ones use now (see Hell or High Water for the most popular of recent years). We get the reluctant hero in Tau, who learns about his former gang and the direction they ended up going in after his disappearance.
We get an excellent introduction to each member of the gang in their teenage years, which will define their action in the film: Zulu the leader, Tau the young lion, Luyanda the cockroach, Bondani the richest, Unathi the pastor, and the young lady of the group Lerato. Using the 20-year gap we see what became of each of these characters with how Tau interacts with them.
The film is set in a small South African village, highlighting just how poor the people living there are and just how easily the police could use their power to make their lives difficult, which brings us the Western theme again, as we fighting back against authority. The small village shows us just how easily the people can come together to make their own lives more comfortable.
We get the stand-off between both sides that have become the traditions in Westerns, the holstering of weapons until the moment that they can shoot their enemies. The final shoot-out does take time to build, showing each character in their own individual battle, giving them their moment to shine.
For a time where the Western genre is nearly gone, we get a surprise package this year, and it is a must watch for anyone who is a fan of the genre.
By Darren/Movie Reviews 101