Rogue (2020)

Of all the things I didn’t expect to see in Rogue, a Backstreet Boys song might’ve been at the top of the list. I figured we’d get bad lion CGI, poor acting, a lack of character depth, and middling action, but a Backstreet Boys song? And it comes up multiple times? You can only prepare yourself for so much in this world and this one caught me off guard. It’s not unwelcome—remember Magic Mike XXL?—but it is a surprise. The rest of those things? Yeah, they’re there. Of course they are. Watch just the trailer for Rogue and I’m sure you can tell that.

What little plot there is sets up as follows: A group of mercenaries led by Megan Fox is tasked with a hostage mission somewhere in Africa. After securing their target, they find themselves on the run not just from the captors, but also a lion. One lion. One would think a group of trained ex-military people would be able to deal with that but, according to one of the movie’s characters, their bullets won’t kill it—only make it angry. Fine, whatever. It’s a bad-CGI lion anyway; maybe it gets supernatural powers by obviously not being of this world.

Rogue jumps awkwardly from being an action movie to being a pseudo-horror movie to heavy-handed messaging about lion conservation and trafficking, failing at pretty much all of these elements. It opens with explosions and shootouts, then sees its characters trapped in a single location while predators surround them, then closes with white text on a black background informing us about illegal lion farming and how awful it is. You know, after we just saw a lion maul a half-dozen people to death. Granted, it had a Good Reason™ for doing so.

That reason, of course, is so we can watch a lion do some murders. Why else are you here? We watch these kinds of movies to see animals kill people and see the people try to fight back against them. That only kind of happens here—the group who did the original kidnapping are more of a constant threat—but the lion shows up a few times and elicits laughter and cheers. Not because it’s scary, goodness no, but because it’s the only time that Rogue comes alive. Granted, that’s through being unintentionally funny, but I’ll take what I can get in a slog like this one.

Most of the time, when there’s no lion, we watch our mercenary team run in the dark, shoot some guns, engage in non-witty banter, and never differentiate themselves from nameless NPC soldiers. The villains are no different. So we’ve got unimportant mercenaries fighting unimportant baddies, a lion, and also Megan Fox. She, along with the lion, has been one of the key selling points to the film. She’s one of the only characters who gets any form of character depth, telling us in about a paragraph of exposition dump a brief bit about herself. I could not tell you her name and her backstory is as generic as they come. Fox isn’t quite as bad at acting as some people think, but she’s not very good here. She, and the other actors, is given nothing to work with.

Rogue is a movie unsure of how to get to its admittedly admirable point. That, or it didn’t have the resources to do it. The script is weak, feeling generic and lacking in depth and development. Its action is flat and consists mostly of people we don’t care about shooting at other people we don’t care about—or a bad-CGI lion mauling people from both groups. The lion spices things up, but only because its appearances are unintentionally hilarious. Rogue is a bad movie from start to finish, but it does have a good message.

Conclusion: Rogue‘s only hope was to be a so-bad-it’s-good movie and it can’t even manage that.

Recommendation: Unless you have an affinity for bad-CGI lions, Rogue isn’t worth your time.

  • 2/10
    Rating - 2/10

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