Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Tyrese Gibson, John Malkovich, Luna Lauren Velez, Christopher Backus, Holly Taylor, Michael Jai White, John D. Hickman, Leslie Stratton, Adrian Alvarado, Fedna Jacquet, Alexsander Vayshelboym, Brandi Bravo, Charlie Sara, Zani Jones Mbayise
Written by: Mickey Solis
Directed by: Jon Keeyes
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 87
Date: 06/11/2021
IMDB

Rogue Hostage (2021)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Inconvenience Store

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Save for the above-average efforts by performers Malkovich and Gibson, this ruthlessly mediocre action movie fails to muster enough energy to move itself out of the well-worn grooves of its plot.

Kyle Snowden (Tyrese Gibson) works in Child Protective Services and suffers nightmarish flashbacks to his wartime service. The widowed father of a young daughter, he also lives his life under the gaze of his powerful stepfather, Congressman Sam Nelson (John Malkovich).

After rescuing a young Spanish-speaking boy from a violent situation, Kyle and his partner (Brandi Bravo) find themselves at one of Nelson's department stores, where the Congressman himself is set to give a speech. Suddenly terrorists, led by Eagan (Christopher Backus) and bent on revenge, invade the store and take everyone hostage. Can Kyle protect his daughter and the young boy and save the day?

Decades after Die Hard, Rogue Hostage is yet another copy of that 1980s hit, with generic villains threatening a group of hostages in an enclosed space, while the heroes lurk, hidden in the shadows, plotting ways to save the day. Yet this movie adds little that's new or fresh to the formula, blowing through its plot points as if it were a checklist of chores.

Director Jon Keeyes doesn't seem particularly interested in establishing the physical space, or using it to generate suspense, and the cheap-looking CG visual effects and choppy shaky-cam certainly don't help matters. Impressively, the performers, not just the two leads, but others as well, seem to be the only ones giving a little more than just the bare minimum; Malkovich especially seems to be in touch in his character's emotional and practical center.

Michael Jai White as Nelson's bodyguard, Luna Lauren Velez as a store manager, and Holly Taylor as a shoplifting employee, all bring a little something extra as well. Characters of color and a loving LGBTQ+ relationship also a slightly new dimension. It's too bad that the utterly routine Rogue Hostage around them isn't worthy of them.

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