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Movies Reviews

The 1 to 5 on movies: Rogue City

This format is a shorter, more to the point, off-shot of the normal review/op-eds I normally do. A ranking will be given at the end from a scale that starts at (from the lowest to the highest): Bad – meh – fine – good – great. Anything not appropriate for these “scores” will likely warrant a more in-depth discussion, which is what I normally do, so this range does not cover all movies, just the ones that I think are suited to this format.

Over the course of running this blog, I’ve started to learn a thing or two about myself, like how I will always suck at naming things and it will not get better with practice and time. More relevant is how I learned which movies I did not like are worthy of sympathy and benefit of the doubt, and which are not; if I can be specific about what I didn’t like (either from a narrative standpoint, directing, editing, or even smaller details/logic related stuff) then that means that in a parallel universe where things went differently, I really enjoyed that movie. If I can’t be more specific than “the directing was bad” or “the action is boring”, then it honestly means that I lost focus and stopped caring, which means that I would have never liked that movie because the problems that need fixing are fundamental and fixing them changes the movie. As it relates to this article, Rogue City is an example of the former; I honestly stopped caring halfway through. Whether it was the overtly complicated storyline, unlikeable characters (not some, every single individual in this movie is an asshole), style over substance approach where style looks like every other movie ever made, Rogue City is one of the most boring experiences of the year.

Directed by Oliver Marchal and starring Lannick Gautry, Rogue City (or Bronx which is its original title) is a crime thriller about a cop doing stuff in Marseille; some of it is corrupt and he is corrupt as well, but in a cool “I’m only doing what needs to be done” kind of way, unlike the other cops that just want money or to survive the gang infested city, and at some point a famously uncorrupt cop comes to clean up their act, which brings trouble. Honestly, the premise doesn’t really matter, because the movie doesn’t really have a story beyond the usual crime thriller stuff of “power corrupts all” and “cops being just as bad as criminals”; where the entertainment value is supposed to come from is through the style, the characters, and the fast moving, frantic pacing. On the pacing side, Rogue City does succeed and it is a fast-moving ride, but because so little matters I don’t consider this a strength but more of a merciful act.

As far as the style goes, Rogue City looks like any other crime thriller out there; it has a gritty aesthetic with realistic and darker visuals to match its themes and tone, but it simply looks generic and thoroughly boring. Again, I will concede that the actors and the director at least adhere to this philosophy with their performances as well; most are suitably over the top in their portrayals and the director will go on somewhat gory and gritty tangents with his visuals and tone (the last scene is as much nihilistic and bleak as any other average crime thriller). Problem with that being, all the characters are unlikeable assholes and nothing really challenges or changes that; obviously, characters can be assholes/unlikeable, but that is usually not an ever-present feature for all characters and it is usually with a purpose. Here, the purpose is to show that all cops, their wives, alongside the gangsters and crooks are all equally assholes; they cheat, get drunk, kill indiscriminately, protect each other to keep being corrupt and vile, and regardless of who is really in those positions, nothing will change. Again, movies can be bleak but they also have to offer something compelling, interesting, or entertaining, but Rogue City simply fails at that and the only joy I got from it was from seeing the credits and knowing I don’t have to watch it anymore; instead of Harvey Keitel’s mesmerizing performance in Bad Lieutenant where it shows the kind of sociopath police work may attract, we get over the top drunks and mind-numbingly bleak and boring cops instead.

Despite all of the above, I can’t actually get into specifics about Rogue City because I didn’t care enough to hold that information or imagine a version I liked more. What I said at the beginning is true: I’m currently working on a Fractured deep-dive, because I don’t need to imagine what it could have been, they already made it and it’s called The Machinist, but I care about criticizing it because I cared about it; Rogue City’s characters, plot, and frustration were ejected from my brain the minute it ended, and thankfully that was for the best. It is a BAD movie that feels like it was made with an angsty teen mentality and not much more beyond that.    

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