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‘The Five Rules of Success’ review: Breaking even

Character study wrapped in a crime thriller.

The Five Rules of Success is an interesting character study wrapped in a crime thriller exterior. The story is about a recently released convict named X (Santiago Segura) who is trying to reintegrate back into society. Everyone from the new boss who takes advantage of X’s past to the friend (Jonathan Howard) who tries to lure him back to his former life seem to be working against the ex con.

To combat these outside forces, X lives by the titular rules he has designed. He is not trying to get ahead in life; he is just trying to keep his head above water. But when success is defined as just getting on the same level as everyone else, is it worth it? It is a compelling premise that takes on many of the problems with today’s society. The shortcomings of the criminal justice system and the perception and treatment of those who have served time are touched on in The Five Rules of Success.

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'The Five Rules of Success' review: Breaking even

These are topics that warrant discussion, but they also run the risk of not having any emotional impact if not handled correctly. The story may lose the message its trying to convey or even focus on the wrong things. Director Orson Oblowitz is able to craft an excellent story that never comes off as cliché and gets audiences engaged. 

A big part of what makes The Five Rules of Success work so well is the performance of Segura. The part of X could be obnoxious and over the top – and may have even worked to an extent. By making X more subdued, it gives the audience more of a chance to think about what the character is going through. It is never solely about what X is experiencing, but also about the why and how. Which is exactly the point of the movie. Figuring out why things are a certain way and how it affects everyone.

The Five Rules of Success opens on iTunes and Apple July 30

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