While many films stand the test of time, others fade into obscurity. Whether this happens over a period of years or almost instantly upon a film’s release, each of these titles has slipped through the cracks of our collective memory to join the ranks of the Films That Time Forgot.

Finder’s Fee‘s understated existence is somewhat baffling. Despite the fact that it features multiple major stars, it remains a hidden gem. Time has well and truly forgotten this tense 2001 thriller, despite the fact that it deserves much better.

First off, Finder’s Fee‘s small cast consists of an alarming number of stars. As well as an early career appearance from Ryan Reynolds, the film stars Erik Palladino, Dash Mihok, Robert Forster… and two little-known actors named Matthew Lillard and James Earl Jones. The talents and star status of Finder’s Fee‘s cast speak for themselves, but somehow, the film still faded into obscurity.

Finder’s Fee starts with Tepper (Palladino) finding a wallet on the street, only to discover that it contains a winning $6 million lottery ticket. After his friends arrive for a poker game, the owner arrives to collect it, sparking a tense moral dilemma for Tepper. Stuck in his apartment with the man he intends to steal from, Tepper is faced with one of the most important decisions of his life.

Finder’s Fee Hits The Jackpot With A Strong Cast & Palpable Tension

James Earl Jones, Dash Mihok, Matthew Lillard, Erik Palladino, and Ryan Reynolds in Finder's Fee (2001)

Part of the charm of Finder’s Fee is how neat it is. Its characters are forced to make interesting moral decisions, and there are very few complications to distract from its plot. It’s decently claustrophobic and tightly written as to avoid spoiling the potential of its genius premise with very few issues. In that respect, Finder’s Fee comes off as intelligent but not unnecessarily complex.

It’s brought to life incredibly well by its crop of stars, each of which clearly understood the assignment. Tension builds gradually as it becomes less clear exactly what Tepper will do, making Finder’s Fee a real edge-of-the-seat experience. In this respect, Finder’s Fee subtly leans into its poker-based premise. Tepper’s poker face is part of the story on multiple levels, keeping even the audience guessing as to his intentions.

The film ends with a brilliantly-executed plot twist about the true owner of the wallet. While it’s a relatively predictable development, it’s carried off with just enough flair to work. Finder’s Fee ends with an unforgettable stinger, and that’s all that really matters: it’s memorable.

Why exactly Finder’s Fee has been forgotten is something of a mystery. It’s a solidly-written thriller with an outstanding cast of actors, and it deserves far better. It’s far from the most original movie ever made, but it’s thoroughly entertaining and appropriately tense, making it well worth a watch.

Rating: 70%

Summary: Finder’s Fee uses its excellent cast to good effect, bringing the tightly-written moral dilemma at its core to life.

Highlight: James Earl Jones’ performance is so cryptic as to keep the audience on edge and unsure of his motivations.