Stars: Tyrese Gibson, John Malkovich Director: Jon Keeyes Distributor: 101 Films
“A purpose is what makes a man great.”
Opening with PTSD induced nightmares and flashbacks, the life of former Marine, Kyle Snowden (Tyrese Gibson) can be a difficult experience. However, his contemporary work in Child Protective Services gives him licence to both exist and better himself amid fixations with anger and alcohol. Kyle helps children in need, but he himself needs help.
Following a routine pickup of a young boy, Manny (Carlos S. Sanchez), Kyle and his work colleague, Clove (Brandi Bravo), find themselves within the supermarket store of Kyle’s stepfather and Congressman, Sam Nelson (John Malkovich), for a television event. Little do they all know, a rightwing terrorist group – armed with masks and suicide vests – led by the viciously weird, Eagan (Christopher Backus), are to target both Nelson’s supermarket and the life of its owner, Congressman Nelson.
The actions of Eagan and his men evoke a response from the wounded soldier in Kyle. The spirit and determination of his former self attempts to break through the shell of his new life, and coinciding with torturous PTSD, Kyle is a severely vulnerable hero in this story.
To a degree, there is a slight spectacle in seeing Tyrese Gibson in an action film where his performance and actor are the polar opposites to that of what we are used to within the Fast & Furious franchise. Gibson delivers a much entertaining performance which, filled with a grittiness, is tough, yet not invincible. His struggles from addiction and war have rendered him a much more humanised action character.
Kyle’s opposition, however, to put it bluntly: The Terrorists, lack a great detail with their influences and/or motivation. As generic as they come, initially, Eagan and team of terror are oppositional towards the politics of Congressman Nelson – but what are these? Essentially, they seek revenge, yet this notion has next to no weight. For a good while too, the hollowness of the antagonists begin to build a suggestion that Nelson is, perhaps, the main villain and the hostage situation is just a sadistic front to mask the Congressman’s villainous plans, but that is not the case. No evil Malkovich this time.
As an action film, Rogue Hostage presents a minimal vibe of the Die Hard formula, but only slightly. The fight scenes that do take place are, thankfully, not ridden with the dread shaky cam, but are instead shot quite close to the performers, preventing a full display of the brutalities, but instead, a heated closeness when the punches are thrown. When fatalities do occur – though not too often – they are rather graphic. As always with the Die Hard formula: the hero uses the environment to their advantage, and in this instance, that is of a supermarket with various household goods from pots to peas – of course, at the top of Tyrese Gibson’s shopping list is kicking ass.
Ultimately, whilst a mildly entertaining, though slightly familiar action film, Rogue Hostage is an admirable effort by director Jon Keeyes, with very obvious budget restrictions. Despite financial limitations, that doesn’t stop Tyrese Gibson, John Malkovich and Michael Jai White getting down and dirty in the action, even though the latter is criminally underused as a muscle bodyguard for Malkovich’s politician character. Overall, the greatest success and achievement of this film is its conveyed emotion. From the haunting cinematography of war torn flashback sequences to the wholesomeness of liberating children in need, Rogue Hostage is a clear success in fusing emotion and action.
Rogue Hostage is now available on DVD in the UK. Many thanks to Aim Publicity and 101 Films for the pleasure of this film.
This article’s featured image: By Source, 101 Films, Fair Use