Rogue City (aka Bronx) begins with a blank screen as we hear the audio of a man killing two people in a house while the credits roll. Soon after, as vision is presented to us, he steps outside, takes his own life and then it goes back to three weeks earlier to see what led to all this.
At this point, I had high hopes for Rogue City because I’m a huge fan of writer/director Olivier Marchal‘s exceptional French series, Braquo, which deals with the subject of police corruption in Marseille, and there’s plenty of them on show here, as well.
Instead of Eddy Caplan (who was played by Jean-Hugues Anglade), Lannick Gautry is Captain Richard Vronski, another gruff dodgy cop in a leather jacket, and with an aversion to having a shave… but then that’s most of the French police dept. However, we see Vronski has an aversion to doing anything he’s told, since he only had one job, which was to take crime boss Paul Maranzano (Gérard Lanvin) straight to jail, but at the baddie’s request, he’d like one last visit to see his wife, Angelina, in the hospital, who’s terminally ill with cancer, given that the judge rejected his requests for that swansong.
But it’s time for corruption to be rooted out, since there’s a new Chief about to join the precinct in the form of Ange Leonetti (Jean Reno). He’s a complete hardball, and as the cops wisecrack about one of the “hotties” at the welcome party for the Chief, he overhears and puts them straight on the fact that this lady, Manon (Barbara Opsomer), is his daughter, and that she’ll be their colleague, starting tomorrow.
Oh, and in addition to Manon, both Vronski and another cop, Will Kapellian (Stanislas Merhar), are married, but their opposite numbers only pop up from time to time, making Marchal a man who rarely seems to write any meaty parts for women.
In Rogue City, it’s amazing that anyone gets any work done in this environment, because (to borrow an old line from Eastenders which Pete Beale attributed to Dirty Den), they’re so bent, they failed technical drawing at school because they couldn’t find a ruler that was straight, and as one of the baddies says to Vronski, “Do you know what’s the difference between you and me? A police badge(!)”
Also, for one of the corrupt cops, who’s up to his neck in it, is Costa (Moussa Maaskri), who’s tipping off big baddie Nadal (Francis Renaud) to the point that if he screws up, he could pay for it with his life. Along the way, there’s another set of baddies known as the Bastiani clan, in which Costa needs to interview their member, Serge Rizzo (Jean-Pierre Sanchez). Well, I say ‘interview’, but it usually involves fisticuffs.
Meanwhile, Victor Scanga (Virgile Bramly) is caught between both the Bastianis and Nadal, and then enter Major Katia de Vrindt (Catherine Marchal), who’s looking to uncover which cops are supplying leaks to big-time gangsters, in order for them all to make a killing out of cocaine deals and the like. Well, you could shove a pin in the staff rota and come up with a name without difficulty(!)
But what started off with promise, eventually gave way to some disappointment. Firstly, there’s way too many characters in this on both sides, causing me to lose track over who was doing the dirty on who. Plus, there’s a beach-based shootout… which takes place in the dark and you can’t see a single thing that’s going on; and to cap it all, Jean Reno is very ‘blink and you’ll miss him’, as he’s barely in it, even though the film was sold on his name.
Similar to Braquo, everyone works in unlit and extremely unsanitary offices, and there’s also a role for that programme’s Season 2 baddie Alain Figlarz as another baddie in this, Santu Bastiani – aka “Fatso”… although his character really doesn’t like that name.
In fact, a better option, overall, would have been to take the plot of this film and use it for an 8-part series, had they fleshed things out, and introduced all the characters properly before everyone takes the actions they take. But since they didn’t, wrapping it up in two hours feels rushed and leaves me short-changed.
As an aside, rather oddly, the onscreen credits are so transparent, they’re barely legible. I wonder why this was done?
Rogue City is on Netflix now, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Check out the trailer below:
Running time: 116 minutes
Release date: October 30th 2020
Director: Olivier Marchal
Producers: Sidonie Dumas, Adrian Politowski
Screenplay: Olivier Marchal
Music: Erwann Kermorvant
Richard Vronski: Lannick Gautry
Will Kapellian: Stanislas Merhar
Max Beaumont: Kaaris
Zach Damato: David Belle
Georges Campana: Patrick Catalifo
Ange Leonetti: Jean Reno
Mario Costa: Moussa Maaskri
Katia de Vrindt: Catherine Marchal
Franck Nadal: Francis Renaud
Zoé Vronski: Erika Sainte
Sacha Kapellian: Ambre Pietri
Hélène Litvak: Jeanne Bournaud
Manon Leonetti: Barbara Opsomer
Antoine Fragaglia: Cédric Appietto
Thierry Bentz: Ange Basterga
Victor Scanga: Virgile Bramly
Catarina Bastiani: Claudia Cardinale
Angelina Maranzano: Dani
Stephan Jankovic: Eriq Ebouaney
Santu Bastiani: Alain Figlarz
Nanou Costa: Michelle Figlarz
Paul Maranzano: Gérard Lanvin
Joseph Bastiani: Pierre-Marie Mosconi
Saïd Larbi: Ange Notari
Serge Rizzo: Jean-Pierre Sanchez
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.