After starring as Roman Pearce in six of the nine Fast & Furious films, it’s about time that Tyrese Gibson was given his very own action movie to lead.
On paper, Rogue Hostage looks like it has all the elements for Gibson to show that he’s much more than the comedic relief. Not only is he the producer, but he stars opposite a pretty strong roster of acting talent, including John Malkovich and action stalwart Michael Jai White.
More than that, there’s plenty for Gibson to sink his teeth into. His character Kyle Snowden is a former marine struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, who now works in Child Protective Services and is a single father.
Snowden pays a visit to his stepfather Sam Nelson (Malkovich), a congressman, on the day he is opening a local supermarket. But a group of mercenaries attack the store, seeking revenge against Nelson as their leader blames him for ruining their father’s life. Snowden has to try and overcome his fears left over from the battlefield to save himself and the other hostages.
Watch the trailer here:
Rogue Hostage’s cinematic mission is very clear: Die Hard in a supermarket. To the film’s credit, it makes full use of its location, as quite a few products and accessories are used as weapons in gory and violent deaths. But there’s only so far that a low budget can be stretched on an action film with such lofty ambitions.
Which is a shame, as director Jon Keeyes manages to deliver some rather compelling set pieces, despite Rogue Hostage’s limitations. This is especially true of Snowden’s nightmares, where he constantly relives the tragic incident that caused his PTSD.
What really holds Rogue Hostage back is Mickey Solis’s truly abysmal script. The first act, with its wooden dialogue, is especially hard to watch. Then, once Rogue Hostage moves inside the supermarket, the film bizarrely tries to make sure that most of the characters are linked in some fashion, which only succeeds in making the plot convoluted.
Throughout all of this, though, Gibson valiantly gives it his all in a nuanced and genuinely impressive performance. Instead of screaming and going for laughs, Gibson makes sure that Snowden speaks meekly and appears vulnerable.
The rest of the supporting cast also deliver. Jai White is imposing as Nelson’s bodyguard, Christopher Backus brings a solid amount of menace as the lead villain, while Luna Lauren Velez’s Sunshine provides the heart and smarts.
Then there’s Malkovich. Just his mere presence is enough to make Rogue Hostage more watchable, and while this is far from a vintage performance, there are a couple of moments where his magnetism and comedic pedigree shine through.
Ultimately, though, Rogue Hostage still falls short. Its painful opening only leads to an adequate middle, while its finale is both predictable and lacklustre. At least it shows that there’s more to Gibson’s talents than driving cars and providing laughs.
Rogue Hostage will release in the UAE on Thursday