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Megan Fox in Rogue.
Megan Fox in Rogue.
Photo: Showmax


1/5 Stars


Rogue leads a team of mercenaries on a mission to rescue a group of kidnapped girls. When their plan goes south, the mercenaries find themselves out of ammo and lost in the bush, having to defend themselves against both the kidnappers and an angry lion.


It's rare to see a movie that makes Sharknado look like an Oscar contender. Yet that's where we are with Rogue - the kind of film that's so bad you can't help but laugh at its awkward attempt to highlight a very important conservation message, when it turns the animal it's trying to save into a killing machine.

Just reading the premise of the film is enough to give you an idea of the kind of self-deprecating rollercoaster you're about to ride. Mercenaries are on a mission to rescue a governor's kidnapped daughter in Africa (because we're really just one country remember). As expected, everything goes sideways, and the team becomes trapped on an abandoned farm, where they become a bad CGI beast's latest prey.

Honestly, if it was just a pure monster movie, it might have just made it into the "it's so bad it's good" genre, hyping up the gore and making the kills more ridiculous. But English director MJ Basset is a filmmaker on a mission - to bring awareness to the atrocity of lion farms , which South Africa, unfortunately, is known for. That might be part of the reason why it was filmed here, with a range of local actors making up the cast, from Greg Kriek with an improved American accent, to Brandon Auret's mansplaining emotions, to a woman, to Sisanda Henna trying hard to elevate his role with an out-of-place dramatic performance.

Local pride might tempt you to tune in to Showmax but be warned that you might not stick it out for long. The film can't decide if it's going to be a horror or action - which in this case blends like oil and water - and it stretches the imagination just too much when mercenaries discuss the merits of lion farming and conservation while being hunted by local rebels and a very mean lioness.

And the less said about the CGI and copy-paste splats of blood spatter with every inconceivable headshot, the better.

The real loser in this whole debacle is Megan Fox, whose appearance in this is hopefully some court-mandated charity work. Hollywood still needs to atone for enabling chauvinistic directors and producers to derail her career because she spoke out against her sexualisation at a young age. It's clear she took the role because of its message about conservation, but she can do better than this and filmmakers need to do better by her as well.

The one tiny spark in the dark of mediocrity was Philip Winchester, playing the second part of a duo of jokester snipers. Eventually, his dumb quips feel like meta-commentary on the actual movie, and you find yourself almost perking up whenever he enters the scene with his terrible rendition of Backstreet Boys' Everybody.

But no amount of dumb jokes can mask the credulous sanctimony of Rogue, preventing the audience from taking it as seriously as it takes itself. Having covered conservation and environmental affairs quite extensively in my career, I can attest that this is the least effective method of getting through to people. Awareness is always important, but many times it ignores the voice of the local communities that need to be included in the conversation.

If you really want to find out more about lion farms and canned hunting, rather see what organisations like HSI Africa, Youth for Lions and Conservation Action Trust are doing to protect our big cats and other threatened wildlife.



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