Very earnestly written and directed, not to mention nicely acted by a cast of mostly first-timers, Call Sign Romeo has a brightly lit and beautifully photographed pallet that matches its overall disposition as a film with its heart worn plainly on its sleeves.
A high school wrestler’s determination to join the Navy reaches its zenith when he must win the state championship.
Cocky and self-assured Chris Torres (first-timer Chris Ana) has a lot going for him: He’s got serious wrestling skills, an ambitious and pretty girlfriend named Lisa (Rebbekkah Eller) who is headed for the Army after high school, and while his grades are pretty solid, he’s got self-determination and he’s mastered his body and made it his slave as he won’t allow any deviation from his training. He already knows that the Navy is within his reach, but he must maintain his high marks on the wrestling team and help take his small team to the State Championships and win at all costs to propel his record and impress the Navy. His coach (played by John Wilson) is a guy who sees his potential and capitalizes on it: He makes him co-team captain along with another strong-willed kid named Marcus (Milosz Gargol) who hates Chris for supposedly being spoon-fed his status, while Marcus looks upon his life with self-hatred and spite for all the lemons life has given him. Granted, Marcus is a bully, but he’s picked the wrong guy to butt heads with because Chris has enough self-awareness to eventually befriend his enemy after their fight in the gym gets Chris suspended and Marcus expelled, which would potentially derail both their lives in the long run. Another kid on their team, a sweet hearted lug who doesn’t have the same set of skills on the mat as they do, attempts suicide with the relentless bullying from Marcus, which further cements the camaraderie and team-building Marcus and Chris must forge together if they’re going to survive high school with their records and reputations intact. When the State Championships eventually come up, these strong kids are going to have to give it their all and face a future where dreams really can come true.
Very earnestly written and directed, not to mention nicely acted by a cast of mostly first-timers, Call Sign Romeo has a brightly lit and beautifully photographed pallet that matches its overall disposition as a film with its heart worn plainly on its sleeves. It’s a message movie, but it doesnât pound you over the head with its approach to delivering its positivity, and that’s a rare thing found in movies these days, especially in films involving youth and teenagers. It’s the kind of movie that used to be made quite a bit in the 1980s and early 1990s where we’re given a set of appealing characters whose struggles and strivings were set to memorable rock songs of the era, films like All the Right Moves (football), Vision Quest (another wrestling film), and Dream to Believe (gymnastics), and yet this film somehow withholds profanity, sex, and boundary-pushing content and keeps it within the realm of PG territory, all while maintaining a sense of realism, which is pretty remarkable. Co-writers Sam Cortez and Stuart Parks II delivered a solid script, while director Raymond Wallace gives us the best possible film with these characters and this scenario we could’ve gotten, so high marks all around. Suitable for all ages.