By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
As a film critic who watches movies on a regular basis, and has a day job, it is difficult to really devote the time to a television series. I would be lying if I said that I don’t watch TV. I do, but I can guarantee that 95 percent of the time, I am watching a movie on my TV. So when the publicists for the new DIRECTV series Rogue gave me the opportunities to review the first three episodes of the show and interview three of its stars during SXSW, the feelings were bittersweet. I was thrilled to cover what sounded like a really exciting new television drama; however, it hit me that if this show really caught me, hook, line, and sinker, I’d have to make time to watch it regularly. Well, after watching the first few episodes of this incredible new series, it has me in its clutches and there’s no escape for this film critic.
Rogue focuses on the life of undercover cop Grace (Thandie Newton), a wife and mother obsessed with discovering the truth behind her youngest child’s murder. After being suspended from the police force to cope with her grief, Grace goes rogue and immerses herself in the criminal underworld, working for crime boss Jimmy Lazlo (Marton Csokas). The deeper and more involved she becomes, the more she loses her original identity and her search for the truth puts a huge strain on her relationship with her husband Tom (Kavan Smith) and her daughter.
Created and written by Matthew Parkhill with the first three episodes directed by Larysa Kondracki, Rogue presents a mostly realistic portrait of a broken cop, wife and mother. It also attempts to present a realistic portrayal of criminals, as well as their every day trials and tribulations. Parkhill has written an outstanding script with exceptionally well developed characters. I found myself not only feeling empathy for the Grace character, but I also felt a connection with the Lazlo family. This show really has sunk its teeth into me and I don’t want it to let go. It delivers on so many levels, containing a wonderful balance of drama, thrilling intensity, and a small dose of comedy.
The show looks amazing. Cinematographer Kieran McGuigan deserves high praise for giving the show a sleekly dark look. The presentation is highly stylized and perhaps this grated on me a tad. As realistic as the characters are written, the Lazlos come across as too stylized for my taste. I think I would have preferred a grittier take on the family. At times, it almost felt like I was watching a reboot of Miami Vice which was great in the 80s, but now feels a tad dated.
I have nothing, but praise for the cast who all deliver gripping performances. I have never seen Thandie Newton perform as well as she does here. She brings a perfect blend of both fortitude and vulnerability to her character. I have only seen the first three episodes of the show, but I already want her to receive Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Marton Csokas is absolutely perfect as Jimmy Lazlo, the crime boss who dreams of leaving the criminal life behind, but can’t seem to escape his roots. I also enjoyed the performances of Joshua Sasse, Leah Gibson and Matthew Beard who make up the sons and daughter-in-law of Jimmy Lazlo. Sasse portrays the elder son Alec who wants to inherit his father’s crime business to support the lavish lifestyle he and his wife Cathy (Leah Gibson) enjoy. Cathy knows just how to pull her husbands strings to get what she wants. Matthew Beard portrays Max, the younger Lazlo sibling, a smarter, more calculating son who actually may have the better temperament to run the family business.
The show premieres Wednesday April 3, 2013, 8:00 pm (CST) on DIRECTV’S Audience network. For fans of crime dramas, I must highly recommend this awesome program. Rogue is taut and tense emotional ride of a thriller. It should not be missed.