Rogue (2020)

A group of mercenaries get more than they bargain for in this action-horror hybrid from the director of Silent Hill: Revelation.

In a remote area of Africa, a band of mercenaries led by Samantha O’Hara are tasked with rescuing Asilia Wilson, the daughter of a political leader who has been kidnapped by a band of insurgents. When Asilia convinces the group to also take her new friend Tessa, they are able to successfully escape the enemy camp. However, en route to the extraction point, they find themselves under constant attack and are forced to hide. Things are about to go from bad to worse.

As the group find themselves not only hiding from the insurgents, they also must deal with nature. When the group finally arrives at a possible shelter to find supplies and rations, they soon learn the horrific nature of where they have just found themselves. Soon enough, a lioness begins to attack members of the group. The shelter was once a lion breeding ground, in which they would be killed off and the cubs would be sent to zoos. As the lioness continues her attack, things are about to go very awry when the insurgents have discovered where O’Hara and her team are as they plan to re-kidnap Asilia.

M.J. Bassett, the director of the horror film Silent Hill: Revelation (in which she was dissatisfied) brings this action-horror meshing with a message about the use of “lion farms” in South Africa. The film’s opening scene, in which lion cubs are separated from their mother and the mother retaliates against the men who were responsible just becomes only a part of what the film is about.

The core focus for the first half of the film is that of a military action film, in which a group of mercenaries must rescue a governor’s daughter from a band of insurgents. What many will find shocking is that the leader of the team is played by Megan Fox. Perhaps known for being more eye candy than something of a badass in her previous films, this is a welcome change for Fox. The film shows her having to prove herself as a leader and that of being a female in a male-dominated team (with the exception of one fellow female member) and if that’s not complicated enough, we see Jessica Sutton’s Asilia (the target they must rescue) forcing the team to bring Asilia’s friend Tessa (played by the director’s daughter) with them as well.

Sutton and Isabel Bassett do well as playing constantly bickering teens who just seem to want to get the worst out of the team members. But wait for it. The second half is where we get the horror element, in which the lioness from the opening scene begins her mayhem now against the mercenaries. While most of the lioness action was done via CGI and in close-ups, an animatronic head (something similar in Dick Maas’ Uncaged), a night vision sequence looks very convincing as if it was a real-life trained lioness doing the work. However, when the insurgents make their return to kidnap Asilia again, which makes up the third act, it becomes very shocking at what transpires.

Rogue is definitely a popcorn flick, but one that does have a message involving wildlife. Underneath the surface it is clear. Don’t mess with Mother Nature…especially if it is a lioness. Plus, seeing Megan Fox in a different type of role is quite refreshing.

WFG RATING: B-

Lionsgate presents a M-Net production in association with Capstone Pictures. Director: M.J. Bassett. Producers: Kyle Ambrose, Delon Bakker, M.J. Bassett, and Molly Hassell. Writers: M.J. Bassett and Isabel Bassett. Cinematography: Brendan Barnes. Editing: Andrew MacRitchie and David Wigram.

Cast: Megan Fox, Jessica Sutton, Philip Winchester, Isabel Bassett, Adam Deacon, Brandon Auret, Greg Kriek, Tamer Burjaq, Sisanda Henna, Kenneth Fok, Ashish Gangapersad, Lee-Anne Liebenberg, Calli Taylor.

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