Saturday 2 December 2023

Movie Review: Rogue Agent (2022)

Genre: Crime Drama
Directors: Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn
Starring: James Norton, Gemma Arterton
Running Time: 116 minutes

Synopsis: In Britain of 1993, bartender Robert (James Norton) claims to be an undercover MI5 agent and recruits three college students to spy on suspected IRA activists. He then wraps up the mission in a rush and extracts the informants out of college. Nine years later, Robert is working at a luxury car dealership and starts a romance with corporate lawyer Alice Archer (Gemma Arterton). She falls for his charms, but then starts to suspect he may not be entirely truthful.

What Works Well: A British production inspired by the true story of Robert Freegard, Rogue Agent underlines the powers of deception and malevolent subterfuge. Working with no-nonsense grey weather colours and grounded perspectives, directors Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn (along with their co-writer Michael Bronner) portray with emotional detachment seemingly smart people falling prey to the methodical plotting of a charming psychopath. James Norton's smarmy smile and ready explanation for every question is a chilling portrayal of mendacity.

What Does Not Work As Well: The pacing is slow, particularly in the evolving romance between Robert and Alice. In contrast, the investigative elements in the final third are sloppy and far-fetched, leading to a fortuitous climax. Ultimately, little is revealed about the inner-workings of a twisted mind.

Conclusion: A cautionary but cold probe of cruelty.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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