Film Review: Detective Knight: Rogue (dir by Edward Drake)

Once upon a time, Casey Rhodes (Beau Mirchoff) was a football star.  He was a quarterback.  Everyone expected great things from him.  He was going to be the next Tom Brady.  But then a knee injury took him out of the game and a subsequent drug addiction took him out of mainstream society.  Now, Casey makes his living pulling off robberies.  He may be a criminal but he’s not a bad-hearted one.  He may carry a gun but he tries not to shoot anyone who doesn’t shoot at him first.  Working with him are a former baseball player named Mike (Trevor Getzky) and Nikki (Keeya King), who is the smartest member of the crew.

Despite Casey’s attempts to do his job with as little violence as possible, a gunfight does break out during one robbery in Los Angeles.  When Detectives James Knight (Bruce Willis) and his partner, Eric Fitzgerald (Lochlyn Munro), interrupt the robbery, Fitzgerald ends up getting shot multiple times as Casey and his crew make their escape.  With Fitzgerald in the hospital, Knight decides to follow the crew to New York and take out both them and their boss, a former Internal Affairs officer named Winna (Michael Eklund).  It turns out that there’s a history between Knight and Winna.  Knight wants his revenge on Winna but, at the same time, Winna knows some dark secrets from Knight’s past.

Though it works as a stand-alone film, 2022’s Detective Knight: Rogue is actually the first part of a trilogy that follows the adventures of Detective Knight.  (Detective Knight: Redemption was released at the end of 2022 while Detective Knight: Independence came out last month.)  The Detective Knight films were among the last of the movies in which Bruce Willis appeared before announcing his retirement.  It can be strange to watch Willis’s final films, knowing what we know about what he was going through at the time that he made them.  Though he’s definitely the star of the film, Willis is used sparingly in Detective Knight: Rogue and there’s little of the cocky attitude that we tend to associate with Willis’s best roles.  Instead, he’s a grim avenger, determined to get justice for both his partner and himself.  Willis is convincing in the role, even if the film is edited in such a way that the viewer gets the feeling that a stand-in may have been used for some of the long-shots involving Detective Knight.  That said, Willis still looks convincing carrying a badge and a gun and it’s nice to see a Willis film where he’s again playing a hero instead of a villain.

As the football player-turned-thief, Beau Mirchoff gets more screentime than Willis but, fortunately, Casey is an interesting character and Mirchoff gives a strong performance as a criminal who would rather be a family man and who is desperately looking for a way to make up for the mistakes of his past.  Towards the end of the film, he does a flawless job delivering a surprisingly well-written monologue about how he went from being a football star to being a common thief.  Mirchoff’s strong performance adds a good deal of ambiguity to the film.  The criminals aren’t necessarily that bad at heart and, as we learn, the good guys haven’t always been angels in the past.  Detective Knight: Rogue becomes more than just another low-budget thriller.  It becomes a meditation of regret and redemption.

Detective Knight: Rogue took me by surprise.  As directed by Edward Drake (who was also responsible for another effective late Bruce Willis starrer, Gasoline Alley), it’s an intelligent thriller and it’s one that pays tribute to Bruce Willis as an action icon.  It’s proof that a good story can sometimes be found where you least expect it.

Hallmark Review: Meet My Mom (2010, dir. Harvey Frost)


I hate Hallmark movies like this one. I say that because it really gives me nothing to talk about. The kid not wanting his room painted pink? Nothing really there. The throwing like a girl line? Nothing there either cause they tie that to the mother and the fact that she just isn’t very good at baseball having not really played it. Well, there is the stupid cutaways to her job that are there just to tell us that she isn’t supporting herself on sunshine and air. While they are stupid, at least they are there. The only legitimate issue I have is with the ending. Oh, well. Let’s take a quick walk through this thing. It’s not like the Hallmark gods are going to strike me down for writing a short review. And by Hallmark gods, I mean Michelle who I am surprised hasn’t been leaving me comments on every post asking where my review of A Christmas Detour is.


The title card showed Stefanie Powers who plays the grandmother in this movie. That’s Lori Loughlin of course who is looking in a box to prepare for her role in the Garage Sale Mystery movies. Actually, her and her son have just moved from Iowa to California because dad basically just left and lives in Florida now. He will hardly be mentioned and spoiler alert, will not show up near the end of the film to provide a last minute speed bump. And take a look at this!


They actually bothered to have Loughlin’s car have an Iowa license plate! The rest of the cars have California license plates as they should, but hers doesn’t because she just moved there from Iowa.

Shortly after they arrive, we are introduced to the love interest.


That’s Sgt. Vince (Johnny Messner). He starts the film off being stationed in Bosnia. He is a loner and once had a woman in his life, but she just couldn’t handle being married to a soldier. He’s not angry about it or anything stupid like that. He understands. That’s one of the really nice things about this film. They really cut out most, if not all of the bullshit that you usually expect in a Hallmark movie.


This is Loughlin’s son Jared (Charles Henry Wyson) looking like he wonders what a “Lotter” is. I’m sure the deaf and people who are hard of hearing who watched this were wondering what was being said a lot of the time. The deal is that his teacher wants the class to write letters to soldiers in Bosnia. Of course the kid is given the responsibility of writing to Sgt. Vince. Then of course Sgt. Vince comes home in short order and is stationed at a base very close to Loughlin and Jared. Then of course he shows up at their door.

It’s okay though because while Loughlin has the screen door closed she looks like this.


But as soon as she opens the screen door she looks like this.


I guess I did have some snark and jokes in me. That’ll happen after you sit through the first hour of Mockingjay, Part I, then come back to write the rest of your review. However, I’m very sorry, but I couldn’t find the clip from My Cousin Vinny (1992) on YouTube. So you’ll have to settle for me saying she only had the screen obscuring her vision of him and no dirty window, trees, with all those leaves on them, and seven bushes. I’m really sorry. YouTube failed me.

Anyways, in no time he’s helping the kid to learn to play baseball. Although, I seriously wonder what someone who can’t hear thought of this shot.


Back on the base, Vince’s friends couldn’t be happier for him. In fact, he has such a reputation that as soon as they find out he is supposed to be at the kid’s baseball game, hiding behind a piece of paper doesn’t protect him.


Oh, then the biological dad calls. Do you care? Cause the movie certainly didn’t. And thank you for not caring movie. I am so sick of Hallmark movies that suddenly bring back old flames just to create friction we know is ultimately meaningless. This movie really doesn’t bother with that nonsense.

At this point, the son kind of steps out of the picture. He does it willingly to make sure his mom and Vince spend some quality time together. He still tags along like when they go camping in the Ecuadorian jungle from The Wish List


No joke. That movie had one of it’s characters being driven in a jeep through bushes that were clearly in a Los Angeles area park and called it the Ecuadorian jungle. Looking back at my old review for that movie, I have no idea why I didn’t mention that.


Well, this is as good a time as any. While I know Lori Loughlin was 46 here, I still think she looks better than the 20 something actresses they usually get on Hallmark. Vince certainly likes what he sees.


I’d say this is when the film gets serious. He is going to ship out again. He really likes Loughlin and the kid. Also, Loughlin doesn’t like just working in drafting. She wants to be an architect. She even applies to go back to college to become an architect. They at first agree to separate, but quickly realize that’s just not going to work for them at this point. Now I am going to tell you the ending here because it’s where I have my real issue with the film.


He ships out. He’s still with Loughlin and the kid, but he leaves to go where he’s told to go by the army. I really did like that in Love in Paradise Luke Perry didn’t just up and quit acting. I also liked that the couple in Lead With Your Heart came to a real adult compromise. However here, his dialogue leads me to believe that he would really prefer quitting the army and being a stay at home dad. He talks about how baseball was a real passion for him, but it fell through. He talks about how architecture is a real passion for her. And it was clear as day to me that he would gladly spend his days taking care of Jared. Maybe he has a required enlistment time, but if they brought it up they certainly didn’t drive it home. They were shooting for making the film about a solider without a family pick up a family so he’s not really alone overseas. Heck, the original title for this movie was A Soldier’s Love Story, which clearly foreshadows this ending. It just wasn’t satisfying for me and didn’t jive with the material that winds down the film.

Now, all that said, this is definitely one of the better Hallmark movies out there. All of the four main characters have real parts which isn’t usual. Usually the kid would be non-existent or one dimensional. Also, Stefanie Powers would have been useless. Here she isn’t in a whole lot of the film, but when she is, she’s there for a reason. It’s not like Falling In Love With The Girl Next Door where I felt like they completely wasted Bruce Boxleitner and Shelley Long. I didn’t even bring up Vince’s friend on the base who is also good and serves the same purpose as Powers, but for Vince. There’s not really any forced Hallmark cliche stuff. It’s standard stuff, but isn’t “Oh, come on!” type stuff. Etc, etc, etc. Long story short, I still recommend this one despite my issue with the ending.

Since I have it and all. Here’s Loughlin judging me for reviewing this before her new Garage Sale Mystery movie.


Quickie Review: Running Scared (dir. by Wayne Kramer)

Director Wayne Kramer’s follow-up to his directorial debut (The Cooler) shows that he has a flair for drama and suspense that borders the line between reality and surrealism. Running Scared has such a gritty, washed out look right from the get-go that one starts to think it’s a film lifted right out of the 70’s. But that is only part of what Kramer does in creating a look and feel for Running Scared. Kramer actually uses every kind of trick in a director’s book to give his film such an over-the-top sense that the audience really doesn’t know what to expect just around the next dark corner.

Running Scared‘s first ten minutes sets up what the rest of the next two hours are going to be like. Kramer direct’s this ten minutes like a man possessed. The direction and editing is frantic and frenetic. Some have said that it’s all been done before by Tarantino, Woo and a dozen other action-stylists out of Hong Kong, but I disagree. Kramer’s style owes alot more to the grandfather of excessive film violence and that’s Sam Peckinpah. I’m not comparing Running Scared to Peckinpah’s seminal classic The Wild Bunch, but the pace and look of the chaotic shoot-out in the tiny apartment to start the film brings to mind the opening and closing shoot-outs of Peckinpah’s film.

Kramer knows he’s not making a social statement or even an intellectually relevant film. What he does know is that he wants to tell a fairy tale of one man’s hectic day and all the craziness he has to go through during that day. And this is what Running Scared really has turned out to be. A fairy tale set in an modern, dank, urban landscape where our hero (though anti-hero is more like it) and the two kids in his life must travel a surreal place filled with mack-daddy pimps, hooker with a heart of gold, corrupt cops and even a pair of child pedophiles who also turn out to be husband and wife. Running Scared is a like Grimms fairy tale as seen and told in a modern setting.

The cast of actors Kramer has assembled all do a good job in populating this violent, profane modern fairy tale. I’d be the last to think that Paul Walker was an actor who had any talent, but his performance in this film has given me pause to think that maybe its not him, but the projects he’s been doing that’s given him a bad reputation as an actor (which continues to this day as he continues to put himself in bad projects). Gone is the California surfer dude persona he seems to saddle himself with in most of his roles. He actually inhabits the low-level mobster soldier he plays as Joey Gazelle. This film may not be his breakout performance but it will open up some eyes. The boy’s got some skill he’s never been able to show before. The other actor who makes a standout performance is one Cameron Bright who plays Oleg. The neighbor kid whose theft of a mob gun Joey is suppose to make disappear turns Joey’s life upside down. Cameron’s almost like Pinocchio in that its through him that we see all the crazy characters he runs across. It’s a testament to Kramer’s direction that he’s able to get such good performances from Walker, Bright and the rest of the cast in a film that’s as confusing, complicated and surreal as this film turned out to be.

Running Scared was a wonderful surprise of a film for 2006. It’s an unabashed fun, thrilling urban fairy tale that goes for broke in everything it does. Wayne Kramer’s direction shows that his very good work in filming The Cooler wasn’t a fluke and one-time deal. He’s no Tarantino and surely not in the same league as Sam Peckinpah whose films this one owes alot to in style and feel, but he’s slowly making a name for himself as one who can do good work. Oh, Paul Walker does a good job in it as well.