Directed by: Bryce Hirschberg
Counterfeiters is an indie drama from director, writer and lead actor Bryce Hirshberg that starts off as a fairly slick and exciting crime-based film where you find yourself rooting for a bunch of characters that aren’t all that likeable.
The story itself is initially well thought out, with Hirschberg’s Bridger designing an inventive way to counterfeit money – namely producing a heap of $20 bills since no one checks the legitimacy of smaller cash. A clever idea combined with some nice bird’s-eye view camerawork and fairly seamless transitions allows the viewer to forgive the poorly acted scene of Bridger consoling his terminally-ill mother as well as some of the strange, lingering shots of printers, gates and continual walking.
Some of the script in the first two acts leaves a little to be desired (’40 or 50 what?’ for the Porsche – duh) and seems a little too improvised in places. But the quickly established relationships between Bridger and his girlfriend Amber (Peyton Pritchard), his trusted friend Jimmy (Shawn Rolph) and the counterfeiting team of Robbie and Preston (Robert McEveety and Taylor Lockwood) are believable and encouraging.
Other strong aspects include the ominous #score that does well to create tension throughout, and the sense Bridger and co are getting in over their heads. Robbie’s reckless spending and drug addiction combined with Bridger’s ego hint at an inevitable fall and the overall Limitless feel to the film keeps the heart beating fast. The marina setting is cool and worked into the story well with the boat Bridger purchased being used for the gang’s criminal office.
However, the third and final act descends into poor acting and lazy transitioning full of glitches. Hirschberg is apt at creating tension, but when it comes to the inevitable violent finale, the execution is poor and inconsistent, particularly with the over and underuse of blood. We are reminded for the first time of Bridger’s initial motivations and also shown how completely irrelevant other aspects of the film were (Megan the bartender and Candice the horny cocaine addict).
Hirschberg has done a surprisingly good job of keeping Counterfeiters from being overly cheesy, despite the early scene with Bridger’s mother indicating this could have not been the case. But the film may benefit from releasing a few of the less relevant elements. The main story also occurs over such a short space of time, that the believability factor is further lost.