Starring Megan Fox as Sam O’Hara, a war hardened, bossy, foul-mouthed leader of a group of equally foul-mouthed mercenaries for hire, Rogue follows O’Hara and her unit as they journey deep into Africa to rescue trafficked girls. Unfortunately, their job goes wrong from beginning to end when their extraction plan is foiled. Forced to go on foot through the wilderness without reinforcements and few weapons, the group’s progress is slow, and the elements are unrelenting: the girls are scared and paranoid — and rightly so after their unspeakable trauma — and dissent is filtering down through the ranks because of the botched job. To make matters even worse, one of the rescued girls is the daughter of a prominent governor (Jessica Sutton) and the men whose camp they raided and destroyed to retrieve her are hunting them down, in the hopes of taking her back for their sadistic, power-hungry purposes. Neither O’Hara nor her soldiers are able to answer that one question weighing on everyone’s minds: will they make it out alive?
Whatever shelter they find is not devoid of its own dangers — hungry lions, haunted slaughterhouses and suffocating darkness. “We’re at the bottom of the food chain”; gradually, Africa begins to pick off the rogue team one by one in the most brutal ways possible. If the group can survive till dawn, a second extraction unit will be able to meet them; despite murders, both natural, animalistic and ones that wear human faces, waiting for the sun to rise may just be the hardest thing of all.
Bloody and untamed, director M.J. Bassett’s film is not for the faint of heart. It seems that the level of violence is cranked way up to compensate for the lack of complexities or profound impact of the plot itself. In fact, the characters spend plenty of time cursing at each other and being wary of the night as opposed to undergoing true development. Not to mention the criminals in pursuit are plagued by yet another case of revenge on American soldiers. The film was shot on location in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the beautiful, yet harsh landscape does contribute a welcome factor of authenticity.
On a more positive note, it is nice to see Megan Fox on screen again, and her confidence as both a woman and an actress definitely comes across each time the camera is on her. What’s ironic, is that even though Fox portrays a badass commander, she is noticeably ‘dolled up’ with eye makeup and expertly messy hair which heightens her attractiveness, rather than being slathered in gorier effects that would make sense with the life-and-death battles she’s constantly thrust into. It is nice however, to see a group of macho men being bossed around by a woman whose bark matches her bite, and Fox does the job wonderfully.
The most compelling character is Sisanda Henna’s Pata, one of O’Hara’s comrades, whose experiences with Africa’s violent past and present evokes a torrent of sympathy and sadness, and forces viewers to recognise their personal privileges — including sitting and watching this very film. Notwithstanding Fox and Henna’s roles, the rest of the ensemble aren’t really that memorable.
Nonetheless, if the film does anything, it reminds us that survival isn’t just about who fires the most bullets or sheds the most blood: it’s about being willing to fight long enough to die last.
Rogue is available on VOD in the UK from November 9th and DVD from November 16th
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favourite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95