Movie Review: 'The Five Rules of Success'
Santiago Segura stars in solid crime story The Five Rules of Success.
The Five Rules of Success stars Santiago Segura as X, a man who has just been paroled. We are not initially told why X was in jail but the movie indicates that he’s spent most of his formative years behind bars. X has no family and few prospects but he does have a set of rules to live by. X has spent his time behind bars on self improvement and that includes creating his own set of rules to live by that he believes will make him a success in the outside world.
Rule number 1: Aim High - Be Delusional. X believes that nothing is impossible for him and he has to think that. Life has always gotten in X’s way, from a childhood of abuse to his time behind bars. He has to ‘Be Delusional’ in order to give himself a little hope in a hopeless world. X is searching for a place in the world and regardless of what that place will be, he intends for it to be a very big and very successful place.
X finally finds work as a delivery boy for a restaurant. His job is to drive a scooter and deliver food. The owner, Akavian (Jon Sklaroff), is kind and patient while the owner’s son, Danny (Jonathan Howard), is just the kind of unpredictable powder keg that a guy who just got out of prison should avoid. Danny is obnoxious, drug addicted, and is eager to make friends with X because of the fact that X is a convict.
Danny sees X as a potential partner in crime. Danny has a side gig doing petty crimes on behalf of a rich guy, played by Roger Guenver Smith. The rich guy has particular tasks such as retrieving money he is owed from sketchy places or making deliveries that may or may not be related to human trafficking. Again, it’s exactly the kind of thing X had intended to avoid, especially since his parole officer, Emma (Isadora Goreshter), is a corrupt, cynical, hothead, eager to find any reason to send him back to jail.
Danny also flies in the face of X’s second rule of success: Block All Negativity. Danny is nothing but negative energy but he has money and X needs money and thus the compromise. X’s rules will evolve as the story goes on with the final of the five rules coming to be “Never Rely on Anyone or Anything.” Hanging around Danny certainly underlines that rule as the relationship between the two proves to be X’s biggest obstacle.
The Five Rules of Success was written and directed by Orson Oblowitz who employs an offbeat visual style for the movie. There are lots of flashing lights, dark colors bathed in neon and the occasional use of the jump cut to create a greater sense of chaos as X begins to lose control of his grand plan for delusional levels of success. The Five Rules of Success is not for those who have issues with flashing lights.
Santiago Segura is the biggest and best selling point of The Five Rules of Success. While nothing about the movie is bad, nothing else in the movie is as good as Segura’s performance. Even as his dialogue is rendered in cliched aphorisms, you can sense Segura’s intense charisma. You get the sense from Segura’s performance that the wisdom he imparts via his five rules of success and his habit of recording himself on a tape recorder, are part of how he has crafted a persona for himself.
Having grown up entirely behind bars, X never had a traditional schooling. He learned from knowledge he had to assemble for himself and from that he crafted a persona. Thus when he speaks in vaguely philosophical terms, you can infer he’s doing so because he thinks this is how intelligent, successful people speak. It’s a charming quirk that is completely earnest, never played for laughs, and it gives you a unique insight into X as a person.
Santiago Segura is so magnetic in The Five Rules of Success that even if I didn't enjoy the movie around him, I would still consider recommending the movie. It's that good of a performance. Thankfully, the rest of The Five Rules of Success is nearly as good as the star. The style is refreshing and the supporting cast is terrific.
The Five Rules of Success will be available on ITunes and Amazon.