A short review this week, as NFB is on annual leave and off on a staycation.
Amsterdam based enforcer Ferry (Frank Lammers) is tasked by kingpin Brink (Hub Stapel) to find the men responsible for the shooting of his son in a botched robbery, and kill them. His mission takes him to Brabant where he grew up, but his eagerness to comply with his orders is complicated by his encounter with Danielle (Elise Schaap), with whom he engages in a sudden love affair, ignorant of her connection to the killers.
I didn’t even known when I started watching this that Ferry was a prequel movie for the Netflix series Undercover, so colour me ignorant. In truth my main motive in giving it a look was as an experiment in subtitles: having constantly felt that Netflix struggles with that art, I watched the dubbed version of Ferry, with English subtitles below as a means of seeing just which was better for getting across what needed to get across. The results were decidedly mixed: while the English voice actors gave the film the required emotional delivery in the dialogue that so often trumps words, it frequently seemed that it was missing the point of what director Cecilia Verheyden intended: the best example is perhaps how the term “southerners” in the subtitles, used in a derogatory fashion, is replaced with more vague and less geographical epitaphs in the spoken dialogue.
But I digress. What we have here is essentially a fairly standard crime story, not dissimilar to the Irish Calm With Horses from 2020, but which is elevated by the strength of the performances and the uniqueness of the setting. When you get right down to it Ferry is just a revenge plot, as the mafia hitman tries to kill the people who wronged his crime family. There is violence, some twists and turns, an inevitable betrayal, etc. This could be very forgettable fare destined for the back of the streaming queue. But I did feel oddly connected to Ferry. Lammers, playing the title character as a sort of gentle giant (without the usual stupidity that comes with the archetype: Ferry could have been a detective in another story) is oddly engaging, especially when he comes into the orbit of bubbly camp-dweller Danielle. The unlikely romance between the two is buyable thanks largely to Schaap’s performance, as the film takes its time getting the two together and then hooking them up: of course a fairly big complication reveals itself in time, that drives much of the tension of the third act.
That third act is probably the film’s weakest leg, as we go from a much more enjoyable middle section to what has to be described as a fairly generic conclusion, one where the tie-in to Undercover harms rather than aids the production, preventing Ferry from being its own thing. But I’ll admit that it keep me onboard for the duration, and Undercover is something that I might be tempted to check-out at some point, provided I get written guarantees that nothing bad happens to Danielle – she just seems too nice. Recommended.
(All images are copyright of Netflix).