Stylish and gritty, Bronx AKA Rogue City is an engaging French police thriller about a shady as fuck anti-gang unit. First of all, I should tell you that the reason why it’s called Bronx is that the meaning of that word in French is FUBAR or Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. And once you’ve seen this movie, you’ll understand the need for this title. In the best tradition of French police movies, we have blurred lines between good and bad guys, surprising twists, and bloody shootouts.
And when I say bloody, I mean bloody because there’s a decent amount of gore in this movie. If you’ve seen the television show The Shield you’ll be on familiar ground when it comes to the general vibe. With sleek and crisp-clear cinematography along with great special effects, the movie looks and feels great. The atmosphere is foreboding and almost nihilistic. There are no good guys and great outcomes here, just messy events perpetuating the eternal struggle.
Rogue City is the latest Olivier Marchal movie, an expert in the field. His movies Les Lyonnais, MR 73 and 36 Quai des Orfèvres dealt with similar stories of police corruption and organized crime. And once you get a feel for them, you’ll feel the need to check them all out. You also might recognize some of the actors as he cast some of his favorites from previous endeavors.
Most of the cast did a terrific job, although there were a couple of wooden ones, just going through the motions. As a special bonus, we get to see the great Claudia Cardinale, an Italian diva who gained recognition in the sixties and seventies. If you like westerns you surely remember her from the Sergio Leone’ classic Once Upon a Time in the West.
Richard Vronski is a leader of an anti-gang squad in the bustling city of Marseille, known for its organized crime networks. He’s willing the bend the law to get what he wants and his methods are unorthodox at the very least. This is about to change as the police commissioner Leonetti is appointed to head the department. However, a brutal and bloody shootout changes things completely.
The shootout mentioned above is one of the bloodiest in French history and it garnered a lot of press at the time it happened. If you want to read up on it, I recommend you check out this article Marseille bar massacre. Although Rogue City is not based on true events its general story develops within the constraints of the French Sicilian Connection, a theme often explored in movies. One of the first adaptations is William Friedkin cult classic The French Connection. We saw the American side of the events there and this can be the French one.
If you want to continue your exploration of this theme I recommend you also check out The Connection and A Prophet. Rogue City features a bit convoluted plot where everybody is always scheming so it can be a bit confusing. The focus is on these macho men doing what macho men usually do, without many nuances. I mean the main guy lives on the fucking boat, only with his wife.
This relatively superficial approach is clouded by intense action, gritty atmosphere, and mystery. The ending is also distinctly French and almost noir, in essence, topping off things quite nicely. So, if you’re up for some nice action and thrills, check out Rogue City. And some of the recommendations we already talked about. Finally, I have to say that the international Netflix productions are much better than the American ones.
Director: Olivier Marchal
Writer: Olivier Marchal
Cast: Lannick Gautry, Stanislas Merhar, Kaaris, David Belle, Patrick Catalifo, Jean Reno, Moussa Maaskri, Catherine Marchal, Francis Renaud