Stephen Morgan, Isaac Walsh
Like family, as stated in this film, there are three categories of movies. The ones you know you'll love, the ones you know you'll hate, and the ones that you really... really want to like but suspect you won't. Before I actually watched Stephen Morgan's film, "Rook" I was firmly hunkered down in category three. There was just something about the film that made me hope for the best, and expect a heaping pile of dung - I can't even say what it was. It felt like a lame, low-budget version of "The Whole Nine Yards" or something like that. Well reader, if the stars I've awarded this film don't say it all - then let me be perfectly clear. I was wrong. This film, "Rook" was actually a damn fun movie to watch and surprisingly? So much bigger looking than your typical independent flick. Stephen Morgan and Isaac Walsh have penned a refreshingly entertaining low budget movie - and with the help of a great troupe, have produced something that doesn't really look low-budget at all. I was glad to have had the chance to watch.
In a near spoiler-free nutshell, our small-time criminal/hero Ben has a heist in mind. It involves a wannabe gangster and some gold - about half a million worth. With the help of a small group, including his sister Annie, it all seems like it will be pretty easy. But obviously, things don't go as planned. Ben ends up with the gold, although not in the way he had hoped, and as a result the whole crew ends up with some new enemies. The McCloud brothers. These are some mean-ass dudes with some mean-ass friends. What comes next is exactly what you think, a cat and mouse movie if ever there were one - and let me say this... there is a lot of comedy in this film but it also gets dark... very dark. Something should always be said about a movie that embraces the dark nature of its story - even if some comedic elements are involved and especially if done well. I loved every minute of it.
Now here's what got me. "Rook" is clearly an indie, low-budget movie - and yet there are times when it plays as good as any major studio production I've seen. That's not to say its indie hallmarks don't surface here and there - only that for the most part, this is a movie that looks and sounds great. Strange feeling edit here and there? Sure. An awkward delivery now and then? You bet. But mostly everything feels the way you expect it to feel, and the pacing was slick enough that "Rook" just glided across my screen. I even enjoyed the multiple dutch angles - something rarely used effectively, as Morgan presented this old west kind of world - populated by some really crazy people. I have nothing really negative to write about the production elements; nothing that really caught my eye.
At the end of the day? "Rook" is a story that balances fun and darkness - and does both quite well. This is a nicely produced, well-acted movie that as I wrote above, really surprised the heck out of me. What more can truly be said? "Rook" was a bit of a roller coaster and although is not one hundred percent perfect, it did the trick. It entertained me for around an hour. A well earned four stars, well done.
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