Writer-director Berty Cadilhac brings adrenaline-fueled chases and a graffiti-rich atmosphere to the screen in Roller Squad. After a string of murders by a switchblade-wielding roller skater, the London skate community must unite to stop this wheeled assassin. Hugh (Benjamin McMahon) is a first-hand witness to a killing after his friend Harry is cut down midway through filming a skating video. Without any cooperation from the police, Hugh and his friends Arthur (David Wayman), Sophie (Amy Newton), and Kat (Alice Sanders) scour the London streets to piece this rolling caper together.
The movie opens with an exciting rollerblade chase through the back alleys and cobblestones of London. As the plot unfolds, the film continues to one-up itself with further chases sequences and a few gorgeous long-takes of the rollerbladers in action. Every chase is scored to frenetic Big Beat music, think the soundtrack to The Matrix or Jackie Chan Adventures, as skaters race down the narrow alleys of the London underground. All of these elements come together to build a world worthy of achieving cult classic status.
“…a string of murders by a switchblade-wielding roller skater…”
Though Roller Squad does have its fair share of shortcomings. I love the worldbuilding and the pace set by the exhilarating chases, but the characters feel stagnant throughout. Moments of action are intense and fun, but it is the moments in-between chases that fall short. These minor beats are usually played for comic relief instead of diving into our team of skaters or even leaving bread crumbs to the identity of our killer. Due to this lack of character development, the climax feels diminished because we have not invested in our heroes enough to appreciate the stakes.
The premise of Roller Squad alone makes it worth the watch. From the opening shot to the end credits, I had a blast watching high-speed rollerskate chases across the vibrant graffiti of London. Conceptionally, the idea of a knife-baring rollerblade killer sounds perfect for a midnight movie. The back-alley setting, vigorous action sequences, and kinetic soundtrack are all marvelous throughout and highlight where the talents of the writer and director lay. However, the characters and sudden build to the climax left me wanting more. The movie still displays mounds of potential for Berty Cadilhac as an action auteur and left me eager for a return to the streets of London.
"…perfect for a midnight movie."