First Look Pictures // 2007 // 78 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // June 13th, 2008
They took his family, now he'll take their lives.
Trane (Nicholas Gonzalez) is a soldier stationed in Afghanistan when he finds out his family has been killed by drug dealers. He returns...WITH A VENGEANCE. Soon he decides that he's going to clean up the neighborhood and he begins to work his way up the drug dealer ladder. And a twist ending that'll make you squint and say, "What the hell?!"
Rockaway is not a terrible movie. It's just really, really dumb. And derivative. And derivative of other dumb movies. It's second-generation dumb. If you've seen The Boondock Saints, you've pretty much seen Rockaway: Dude with a divine mandate decides to get rid of all the criminals with funny accents in his neighborhood. And, truth be told, The Boondock Saints did it better and this is saying a lot.
The criminals in Rockaway possess a level of intelligence seen only in sponges. Trane's methods of infiltration involve: killing a bunch of henchmen and then walking up to the drug dealers and saying he has a large amount of heroin. And they go along with him. I'm pretty sure that it's not a sound business practice to make deals with strange men who walk in on off the street, especially strange men that have killed some of your associates. What was the thought process behind this decision? "Well, this young chappy has been knocking off my men left and right, but I like the cut of his jib!" Trane is supposed to be some awesome bad-ass, making use of strategy and military tactics to take down these criminals. But, seriously, the fact that some rent-a-cops haven't already cleaned up this neighborhood is befuddling.
Trane is a tragic figure, robbed off his wife and son, he is an emotionally driven man. Or, more accurately, he's an affectless man not given to emoting. Apparently, emotions are for wusses. This is a memo that the film's main villain apparently hasn't received. Juju (Mario Cimarro) is much more interesting to watch and is, quite possibly, the most timid drug lord I've ever seen. In fact, I'd love to see a movie about just this guy. How on earth does someone who doesn't like killing or violence manage to earn the respect of Russian drug bosses?
Rockaway also has a heavy reliance on digital gunshot effects. I'm of the opinion that digital gunshot wounds are an abomination and will be the ruination of action and horror movies. And to have digital gunshot holes in walls? Ugh, it even looks like they just used the same gunshot hole multiple times. Still, I can't fault a low budget, indie film too much on their special effects. So you get a free pass on that Rockaway.
And Rockaway does have some neat little points, even if it is buried underneath everything else. There's a sequence with a blind man walking through the city with close-up shots of his little tricks at navigating; his hand trailing a wood railing and along car doors. It's points like this that give me hope that the director can one day put something better together later on down the line. Just with a better script.
The disc is as barebones as you can get, with the box listing such special features as the movie having audio and previews for other movies. And it's also mercifully free of any glaring technical glitches, though it's awfully grainy at times. It's nothing standout, but nothing terrible either.
Rockaway's main problem is a derivative script that tells a ludicrous story badly. When there's no challenge for the hero and no real emotional connection to him, what's the point of watching?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: First Look Pictures
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R