Director: M.J. Bassett
Cast: Megan Fox, Philip Winchester, Calli Taylor, Jessica Sutton, Lee-Anne Liebenberg
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language and Violence)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 1 October 2020
Synopsis: Megan Fox (TRANSFORMERS) tackles a thrilling new role as a battle-hardened mercenary in this explosive action saga. As team leader O’Hara, she leads a lively squad of soldiers on a daring mission: rescue hostages from their captors in remote Africa. But as the mission goes awry and the team is stranded, O’hara’s squad must face a bloody, brutal encounter with a gang of rebels – and the horde of ravenous, enraged lions they encounter.
After retiring from the ‘Transformers’ trilogy, Megan Fox has not yet found similar success, and it is telling that she is headlining a B-movie like this. Don’t get us wrong – we’re not looking down on such genre fare; rather, we had not expected Fox’s career to have taken such a nosedive since then.
And yet, it is surprising that Fox isn’t the best thing about this action thriller. Playing the leader of a team of mercenaries, Fox struggles to deliver anything more than a one-note hardened performance that doesn’t convey any shade of nuance or character development throughout the film.
Not that the script co-written by Isabel and M.J. Bassett gives her much room to do either; instead, it thrusts her into a straight-forward story about a group of guns-for-hire who get more than what they expected after rescuing a couple of young women from a trafficking ring somewhere in the African wilderness.
Besides being pursued by the kidnappers, Samantha (Fox) and her team are also hunted by a lioness roaming the grounds of an abandoned lion farm where they are taking refuge; we are shown in the opening sequence how the lioness had come to stalk these grounds in the first place, and let’s just say it is not a pretty sight.
The same can be said of those within Samantha’s team unlucky enough to run into the lioness under the cover of darkness; and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the finale will see Samantha facing off with the lead kidnapper Zalaam (Adam Deacon) with some help from the lioness herself.
Truth be told, it is a pretty promising set-up for a lean one-and-a-half hours movie, but director M.J. Bassett squanders that potential away with too much exposition in the second act. Trying but failing to generate any meaningful rapport between the mercenaries and the women they had rescued, Bassett lets the pace slacken with lame jokes and cringe-worthy banter, while occasionally throwing in an appearance by the lioness to keep you from dozing off.
It doesn’t help that the plotting is too linear to keep us intrigued, or that the lioness is generated by budget-constrained CGI which looks like it was the work from a decade ago. The latter we don’t hold against the filmmakers, given how they were probably not given much to work with in the first place; but the former is what will probably leave you disappointed, and wondering why they did not just try harder. That the filmmakers try to throw in some social commentary about poaching and conservationism also doesn’t excuse the lazy writing.
Still, those looking for an utterly mediocre action fix will probably find themselves reasonably satisfied. The third act is pretty much an extended climax, with plenty of running, explosions and gunfire within the farm compound; and on her part, Bassett handles the action with enough assurance. Fox is also reasonably adept as a female action heroine, doing what she does best in the ‘Transformers’ movies.
‘Rogue’ may not be a standout, but neither does it belong at the bottom of the food chain; the same though cannot be said of Fox if she continues to muddle in such forgettable B-movies. If all you’re looking for is to kill time in the comfort of a cinema hall, ‘Rogue’ will keep you suitably distracted while it lasts.
(Neither memorable enough as a solid B-thriller or woeful enough to be written off, 'Rogue' is a middling time-killer that will satisfy those looking for a mediocre action fix)
Review by Gabriel Chong