One ballsy man’s spectacular real-life rip-off that endured within the UK for almost a decade makes for pulse-quickening escapism in Rogue Agent. It is a story so far-fetched that you just’d have hassle shopping for it in a movie except it actually occurred, and such is the case right here in a yarn that intrigues from the very starting and solely momentarily in direction of the top loses a little bit of its footing. Graced by sturdy and alluring performances by leads James Norton and Gemma Arterton, this most engrossing drama is an IFC Films launch within the U.S., the place it would even be obtainable for streaming on AMC+, whereas Netflix will broadcast it on residence turf.
Nice Britain has in all probability turned out extra first-rate spy tales, each in literature and onscreen, than another nation, however this one has a particular taste that units it aside. It’s each clever and attractive, a mix sufficiently uncommon as to at all times to be welcome, and the audacity of the central determine, Robert Hendry Freegard, each in work and play is as instantly fascinating as it’s appalling; the person made main mischief.
Benefiting from a spy scarcity (who knew?) that England for a couple of decade starting within the early Nineties and triggered the unprecedented use of “freelance” undercover investigators, the well-spoken younger Freegard used his appreciable allure and persuasiveness to efficiently pose as a member of the MI5 home safety equipment. The gentleman’s efficient rip-off concerned seducing girls whom he then persuaded to present him cash to purportedly pursue his top-secret seek for enemies, IRA operatives prominently amongst them.
A fast go to to the web reveals that the true Robert Freegard was no matinee idol, however he made up for it with quick intelligent discuss and an inviting method. Against this, Norton, who portrays him, has no such handicap; relatively, he may scarcely be extra dashingly debonnaire as a wily talker and practiced charmer who has little hassle touchdown his prey and, ultimately, her checking account.
Not that Alice Archer (Arterton) is any form of dummy or push-over, removed from it. They’d met earlier than—9 years earlier, in actual fact—and the attraction on either side is manifest. The script by Michael Bronner and co-directors Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn (the latter two of whom made the acclaimed three-part The Salisbury Poisonings, which was the most-watched drama on the BBC in 2020) deftly trades each in discreet however mandatory exposition and insinuating banter; it’s all good stuff with a easy British polish, and the 2 lead actors know the right way to put it over with loads of wile and tips left in reserve.
At this level in her profession, Alice is what’s referred to as an “investigations solicitor,” and considered one of her expertise is wanting into folks’s credit score histories. When she checks her new Romeo out, she finds he has none. “You don’t exist,” she informs him. Unfazed by this accusation, Robert, or no matter his identify is, reveals his spy standing and, in very James Bond vogue, lets her take the wheel of his pink sizzling pink Ferrari on their strategy to a romantic weekend in a lighthouse. Her new plan in life, below her new beau’s affect, is “benefiting from issues.”
If solely she’d recognized what she was getting herself into. Developments are a bit tough to observe at instances however are shrewdly laid out total. Crucially, the movie is rarely glib about Robert’s skills—you need to consider in his powers of persuasion so as to swallow the premise. The shifting dynamics take a look at the thoroughness of Robert’s large con and his capacity trick even his good new inamorata.
In the long run, Freegard conned about £1 million from no less than seven victims over the course of a decade. However, crucially, the precept focus all through the continuously engrossing movie stays upon Alice, a fortuitous selection as a result of she’s so good and nonetheless will get conned. One would possibly marvel why the victims have been so silly as to let themselves be taken benefit of so fully. Crucially, the script and actors make all of it credible, whilst the truth has been glamorized, polished up and in all methods been made extra glamorous and provocative.