So we’re reviewing Megan Fox movies, now, are we? Well, yes, I guess, if they’re good enough, why not? The Transformers star may not be an obvious rallying point for cineastes, fairly quiet since her reunion with producer Michael Bay to play the iconic role of April O’Neil in two forgettable Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies. She returns to the screen as a top soldier in GI Jane mode for MJ Bassett’s Rogue, worth a look as an unpretentious alternative to the parade of award worthies featured during the current entertainment cycle.
Samantha O’Hara (Megan Fox) is the leader of a group of hardened mercenaries; classic extraction melodrama The Wild Geese feels like a useful reference point here, since Bassett’s film follows a similar missed-the-last-chopper storyline by abandoning O’Hara’s crew in Africa. Instead of a politician, the cargo turns out to be two teenage girls who have been kidnapped and rescued by local warlords; one is the daughter of a ‘governor’ although details are sketchy. O’Hara leads her troop to a successful raid on human traffickers, and a daring waterfall escape, but seeking refuge, they come across an abandoned lion farm, abandoned with good reason…
After an all-guns blazing opening, Rogue settles down to a one-location Fox vs lion thriller, almost theatrical at times, and that’s a good thing, with some decent scenes and dialogue for a B-movie co-production between the UK and South Africa. O’Hara has to protect the girls from the warlords, but also stave off the interruptions caused by the seemingly indestructible lioness; yes, it’s a war movie, but it’s a kinda-horror movie too. If you think that tense stand-offs will be interrupted by surprise lion attacks, and vice versa, you’ll be right; an entertaining formula in the manner of Deep Blue Sea, even if the CGI lion is best kept off-screen.
I’m fond of Bassett’s work (Solomon Kane in particular), and Rogue is no exception; an admirably straight-forward horror/war hybrid that works as a vehicle for Fox, who never undresses, sprawls over a motorbike, or plays up to her previous uber-glam image. Rogue is more than a little hokey at times, but manages to maintain narrative tension, and makes for an easy late-night watch on Prime; for Fox, it might just open up a whole new line of work as a kick-ass action star. If nothing else, I have to admit I didn’t know much about the issues involving illegal lion farms in Africa, and MJ Bassett seems keen to use this film to raise awareness as a respecter of wild-life; as a lover of all cats, big and small, I salute her efforts.