Film Review: Rogue Agent

STUDIO: IFC | DIRECTORS: Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson | CAST: Gemma Arterton, Sarah Goldberg, James Norton, Marisa Abela
SPECS: NR | 115 min. | Thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes):

Rogue Agent is a stylish, intriguing spy thriller without the actual spy.

Robert Freegard (James Norton, TV’s Grantchester) puts the “long” in long con. A master manipulator, for over a decade Freegard convinces countless victims that he is an undercover MI5 agent in order to extort and kidnap them. At the height of his criminal activity, he engineers a meet-cute with Alice Archer (Gemma Arterton, Summerland) a wealthy, sophisticated lawyer who initially falls for his charms. Soon Alice starts to see through his manipulation and gaslighting and begins a quest to uncover the depth of his deception before his actions claim the life of another victim.

Gemma Arterton and James Norton in Rogue Agent.

Directed by Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson (The Undeclared War), who also co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Bronner (The Mauritanian), Rogue Agent is a fictionalized account of an unbelievably wild true story that has so many dramatic twisted turns you wonder why they felt the need to tinker with the truth. Luckily their changes don’t hurt the crux of the intrigue of Freegard’s illusory antics. Lawn and Patterson have a respectable background in investigative and photo journalism which certainly helped form their narrative storytelling skills. They expertly distill a complicated tale into a straightforward and very compelling film.

But none of this would work if you couldn’t believe that Freegard was able to deceive his victims – especially the intelligent Alice – so expertly. Norton, known for his stoic portrayal of the mild-mannered vicar of Grantchester, is great playing against type as the sexy and playful Freegard. He is equal parts charm and smarm, casting spells that easily earn him trust. Arterton continues to shine in each new role and she has a natural chemistry with Norton. Alice is no push-over, not your typical easy mark, and Arterton’s performance infuses her with her own agency, making her very credible as she eventually falls for his scam.

Kudos to all for keeping such a farcical story grounded in reality. After watching Rogue Agent, consider taking a deep dive into Freegard’s full story with The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman, Netflix’s immersive and gripping documentary series.

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at