Jun 13, 2022
Alice Sanders, Benjamin McMahon, Amy Newton, David Wayman
Remember when roller skates were the big thing. Nowadays the chances of you seeing somebody rollerskating whilst out and about is very unlikely, but not so long ago you wouldn’t have been able to walk ten feet before running into someone skating. Whilst shows like ‘Stranger Things’ have shed a little nostalgic light on the lost art, for the most part, the mode of transport remains a relic of a bygone era.
It’s amusing therefore that ‘Roller Squad’ seems to embrace a different age of nostalgia, instead of feeling like something out of the early 2000s. With several montages of people skating, to the tune of a retro, high-tech soundtrack, it both looks and sounds like 2002 - just with the advantages of modern-day technology.
‘Roller Squad’ tells the story of a group of friends - Kat (Alice Sanders), Hugh (Benjamin McMahon), Sophie (Amy Newton), and Arthur (David Wayman) - who join forces in order to catch a serial killer, who is targeting skaters. It begins with an awesome chase and the serial killer’s first kill. Obviously, the group are concerned, but continue with their lives unabashed, cracking some, fairly funny, jokes and hacking their neighbours’ security camera. When a friend becomes the next victim, with the unsuspecting Hugh just around the corner, they decide to take matters into their own hands and head off in pursuit of the killer.
The film keeps its jovial, breezy mood throughout - not afraid to break out into gags, one in particular about Hugh’s technologically invested brain. This makes for a fun, engaging flick, nothing particularly memorable, but an enjoyable ride. The main joys come from watching a dynamic cast bounce off each other, with vibrant chemistry between the central quartet, who bounce off one another with relative ease.
The skating sequences are another highlight, excellently directed by Berty Cadilhac, who makes the chases feel brisk and intense, gliding effortlessly behind the skaters. However, the film’s environment - predominantly the streets of Central London - doesn’t feel lived in, and appears to be almost a cardboard cutout, whereby each character feels one-dimensional. Despite the best efforts of the actors, who inject their characters with energy and enthusiasm, they are let down by a disappointing script, which relies more upon its actors’ chemistry, than any sharp dialogue.
This is best evidenced by the monotonic nature of its raft of side characters, who lack personality and their dialogue all feels extremely strained. This is then exacerbated by the incessant score, which becomes tiring after the first needle drop, and comes across as cheap and befitting of a lesser film. Additionally, there’s a high degree of implausibility surrounding the whole affair - largely with the cringe-worthy attitude of the police. The idea that the police fail to act on the clear evidence presented to them, and are so condescending towards those appealing for help is not too dissimilar to the attitude of a pantomime villain.
Roller skating is a dying sport, and although ‘Roller Squad’ is unlikely to inject it with any new life, it is nonetheless an effective comedy-thriller, introducing us to a promising group of young actors.