THE HANDS YOU SHAKE

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2014
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 93 minutes
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When Oscar (Kevin Graber) finds a discarded bag full of over a million dollars in cash, he brings it to his friends Josh (Paul Stanko) and Mason (James Morosini) to help him figure out what to do with it. Josh balks at doing anything besides calling the cops, and it’s up to Oscar and Mason, at the suggestion of their friend, and now partner-in-crime, Bruce (Garrett Coffey), to figure out how to hide the cash in an appropriate way that will not cause undue suspicion. Unfortunately for the young friends, the hit men who mistakenly left the bag of money after a botched drug deal are back on the hunt for the cash, and they’re none too friendly.

Alfonzo (Jeff Randhawa) is the strong and silent type, quick on the trigger, and Gloves (Chris Fornataro) is a straight-up psychopath, and they’re both none-too-impressed with being forced to chase after the bag. To make matters even worse, they’re not the only hit men out looking for the money, and their boss has even dispatched a legendary fixer, The Piper (Marshal Hilton), to make sure that nothing else goes wrong. But, of course it does.

The vibe of Kent Lamm’s feature film, The Hands You Shake, is reminiscent of a Coen Brothers crime caper, with the energetic and youthful feel of Doug Liman’s Go. Full of interesting characters in a story that is increasingly spiraling out of control, the film offers up a stylistic take that truly works. There’s certainly a familiarity to the tale, but it works within those expectations to offer up a few twists and turns that, even if predictable, are nevertheless appropriate.

The one element that was consistently problematic for me, however, is the audio mix. Sometimes the music is too loud, and it makes following the dialogue difficult. Other times characters, in their heightened state of emotions, talk over one another. There were too many moments where I found myself annoyed because I was trying to follow one stream of dialogue while too many conflicting lines kept stepping over it, or music or other sounds were interrupting the flow.

But that is my only major criticism of the film, and I managed to make do just fine despite those moments of annoyance. The rest of the film is entertaining, and the stylistic flourishes and homages contained within were enjoyable to experience. The film looks good, and the performances are mostly strong, if sometimes prone to living it up in hammy territory every once and a while; it does fit the more over-the-top aspects of the film, so it’s not entirely out of place.

The Hands You Shake is an ambitious film, and it succeeds, all things considered. It doesn’t shy away from some bloody violence, keeps the energy level up and the momentum moving dangerously forward. It has moments of dark comedy, and is generally an entertaining flick all around.

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Posted on July 2, 2014 in Reviews by
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