Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Rook. Review: An Indie Heist With Charismatic Leads

Release date: August 11, 2020
Running time: 70 minutes
Starring:  Zack Rush, Sarah Johanna Jewell, Bobby Lee Black

A failed gold heist leaves two siblings and a few of their friends at the mercy of two backwoods brothers hell-bent on getting back what's theirs.  Set in Colorado between civilization and wilderness, Rook. has the main characters try a get rich quick scheme that is messed up by constant screw up Ben (Rush).  However, this one has consequences as he has dragged his sister Annie (Jewell) into this heist. And when the two brothers that they have swindled come after them, no one will be safe.

Rook. definitely has style.  The opening is great and really sets the stage for this small Colorado town and heist.  It introduces you to the town, the overall irreverent tone of the movie, and to some of the characters.  And the leads of this film are very entertaining.  Both Zack Rush and Sarah Johanna Jewell are great in their respective roles, and the chemistry the two have is noticeable.  Rush was especially entertaining, and I really liked the way he portrayed his character.  He has a natural acting style that feels irreverent at times, which is perfect for this type of heist movie.  Think like Van Wilder but slightly more serious.  There also is a lot of Jewish symbolism here as many of the heist participants are of the tribe.  And along those lines the soundtrack features some great, upbeat Jewish-style music that is perfectly in line with the tone.  It gives those scenes a whimsical nature.  Along with the music and characters, there is some pretty clever and entertaining writing.  

However, outside of the leads the other characters are less engaging.  They aren't bad, but I wasn't drawn to them like I was the two main protagonists.  They are all quirky and unique, but didn't wow me like the two leads.  The main villains of the movie, the two Hillbilly brothers, are hit or miss.  One doesn't really fit the mold and the other doesn't have enough lines to really get a feel for them.  And their slightly ridiculous nature made them tough to be scared of.  Additionally, there were some odd shots like when a gunfight occurs and it looks like one of the actors shoots into a windshield rather than around it.  And although there is some emotion, especially towards the end, I just didn't feel that invested in the characters outside of the Ben and Annie.  And although this movie does prominently feature a female lead, there is little diversity in the rest of the cast.  Indie films maybe don't have the same pool of actors to choose from, but it is still something that just looked off in our current times.  

Altogether Rook. is an irreverent heist comedy with good style, wonderful leads, and some fun acting.  

Rent it.
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