Rogue Agent, based on a true story

James Norton and Gemma Arterton in Rogue Agent

Rogue Agent is based loosely on the true story of Robert Freegard. Freegard was a British conman who bilked women out of their money by pretending to be an MI5 agent. There are some minor spoilers ahead.

Rogue Agent is about a liar. People believe liars. We know that. We see it everyday. This particular liar used his charm and good looks to attract compliant people (mostly women). He convinced them he was a spy and asked them to do all sorts of things to prove their loyalty to him.

James Norton in Rogue Agent

James Norton plays Robert Freegard in this film. He was a serial user of women. He’d find one, bleed her of every cent he could, and leave her behind. His control over his victims was absolute, although parents and friends of the people he conned could see what was happening. Their complaints to police yielded no results.

Gemma Arterton in Rogue Agent

The women he robbed were amalgamated into the character of Alice Archer (Gemma Arterton) in the film. She is not based on a real person, but rather represents many of his victims.

Alice Archer was a lawyer. She fell for Robert, but she had a suspicious mind and she began to investigate him. When he stole £120,000 from her, she went after him with a vengeance.

It took Alice some effort to convince the police and a real MI5 agent to help her catch up with Freegard. They did catch him and he went to trial. He was sentenced to life in prison, but as we see at the film’s end, he was released from prison after only a few years.

James Norton can do just about anything. He’s especially good at the oily, sexy, manipulative type he plays here (see Happy Valley). The part played by Gemma Arterton was a little different for her – more anger, more relentless determination. She did well with it.

Conmen are everywhere. In life, in politics, in business. They are hard to spot and often get away with ruining many people’s lives without any consequences to themselves. Unfortunately for human nature, if the people drinking the Kool Aid are convinced the conman is telling the truth, it’s hard convincing them otherwise. The way Alice Archer, the police, and MI5 approached the people they found who were in Freegard’s thrall is a lesson in how to deprogram victims.

You can see this film on AMC+ and it might be available from VOD in a few places.

Maybe don’t go looking on Google for info about Robert Freegard until after you’ve seen the movie because the film strays from reality a bit. You’ll enjoy watching the fictional Alice Archer bring down this conman more if you don’t know everything. There’s a documentary about Freegard called The Puppet Master.

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