Brian Helgeland’s screenwriting credits read like a history of Hollywood over the last quarter-century, with entries encompassing genres including slasher films (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master), post-apocalyptic melodrama (The Postman), action films (The Taking of Pelham 123), sports dramas (42), medieval tomfoolery (A Knight’s Tale), and, of course, L. A. Confidential, the taut 1997 crime thriller that bagged the writer an Academy Award.
Helgeland’s directorial work is similarly varied. His latest film, Finestkind, comes eight years after his last sojourn behind the camera, the 2015 Tom Hardy vehicle Legend, about the infamous gangland bosses the Kray twins. Like that film, Finestkind delves into the criminal underworld, but unlike Legend, which takes place in Sixties London, its setting is the environs of a Massachusetts fishing community. Here’s everything we know so far.
Finestkind: The Plot
Finestkind treads familiar territory for Helgeland, whose interest in the crime genre is longstanding, and was inspired by the writer’s own experiences on a scallop boat. In Massachusetts, two brothers working in the commercial fishing industry find themselves back together one summer after years apart. Finding themselves in straitened circumstances, they look to a notorious crime syndicate in Boston for solutions and shortly find themselves entangled in a web of intrigue and illegality.
As the brothers’ plight becomes more desperate, they find a young woman gets in the crossfire. The film unfolds against a backdrop of family dilemmas, personal sacrifices, and difficult decisions.
Finestkind: The Cast
Finestkind benefits from a substantial ensemble cast of Hollywood veterans and relative newcomers. Heading the cast is the star of The Fugitive, Batman Forever, Men in Black, and No Country For Old Men, Tommy Lee Jones. His appearances on screen have been sporadic since his memorable Academy Award-nominated performance as Senator Thaddeus Stevens in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012). Since then, he has starred in a variety of movies, including Second World War drama Emperor (2012) as General MacArthur; The Homesman, a 2014 Western (which he also directed and co-wrote); and opposite Brad Pitt in the underrated sci-fi epic Ad Astra (2019). Finestkind will represent Jones’s first appearance on screen in three years since his appearance alongside Robert de Nero in the 2020 crime caper The Comeback Trail.
Also starring is Ben Foster. After coming to prominence in the early 2000s with his work on HBO’s Six Feet Under, high-profile appearances as the evil Charlie Prince in James Mangold’s critically acclaimed Western 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and as Sergeant Montgomery in the Iraq War film The Messenger (2009) established his Hollywood credentials. Since 2020, Foster has been particularly busy, with well-received turns as Harry Haft, a Jewish boxer and a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, in the biopic The Survivor, as well as appearances last year in The Contractor, Hustle, and Medieval. He also plays a white slave catcher on the trail of Will Smith’s escaped slave Peter in Emancipation. He is slated to appear opposite Ed Harris and Jessica Lange in what will be the third cinematic adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s 1956 play Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which wrapped in November.
Jenna Ortega also appears, in the latest step of a meteoric rise that has seen the actor bask in the spotlight for several months now. She enjoyed a major critical and ratings success with Netflix’s Wednesday late last year, in which her work in the title role has already yielded a Golden Globe nomination. While Ortega got her break as a child actor, after a series of bit parts in television and film, her five-year stint on The CW’s Jane the Virgin brought her to wider public attention, her movie work of late has been almost exclusively in horror, with both starring and supporting roles in slasher movies such as X, American Carnage, and Studio 666, all of which premiered last year. Another such appearance, in the sixth installment of the Scream franchise, is due to be released in March and will see Ortega starring opposite Friends star Courteney Cox and Jasmin Savoy Brown.
Other cast members include the star of Hulu’s Pistol miniseries, which charts the life of Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, Toby Wallace, Tim Daly (Madam Secretary, The Game), Clayne Crawford (Lethal Weapon, The Integrity of Joseph Chambers), Lolita Davidovitch (Shades of Blue, How To Get Away With Murder), and Aaron Stanford (12 Monkeys, Fear The Walking Dead).
Location filming on Finestkind began in New Bedford, Massachusetts last spring, and wrapped in early summer. The film’s release date was originally reported as being sometime in late 2022 but was pushed back by production delays. A new release date has yet to be announced by Paramount+, who picked up the distribution rights for the film last year, according to Deadline.