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Rogue Hostage (2021) Review

Rogue Hostage is the latest in the never-ending parade of Die Hard knock-offs. Writer Mickey Solis and director Jon Keeyes (Doom Room, The Harrowing) have chosen a Walmart style superstore as the location for their showdown between a lone hero with marital issues and a group of terrorists. Is there anything new left to add to the formula, or is this film destined to go straight to the clearance rack?

Kyle Snowden (Tyrese Gibson, I Am Paul Walker, Dangerous) came back from Afghanistan with a bad case of PTSD. Compounding that, his wife left him and their young daughter, Angel (Zani Jones Mbayise). Now he divides his time between his job with Child Protective Services and drinking himself stupid.

Sam Nelson (John Malkovich, Red, Bird Box) is a Congressman and business owner as well as Kyle’s stepfather. He’s opening a new superstore when a group of redneck militia types led by Eagan (Christopher Backus, Roadies, Drowning) take the store and everyone in it hostage.

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Rogue Hostage takes this fairly basic concept and proceeds to complicate the hell out of it with an unlikely web of coincidences and relationships. Sam has Angel with him when the store is taken over. Kyle and his co-worker Clove (Brandi Bravo, Accommodations) are at the store to get clothes for Manny (Carlos S. Sanchez) an abandoned child they just rescued from an abusive situation.

Egan is targeting Sam for a perceived wrong he did to Egan’s father. The store’s manager Sunshine (Luna Lauren Velez, Dexter, Rosewood Lane) just happened to be Egan’s tutor in high school as well as Clove’s cousin. Sunshine is locked in the office with Mikki (Holly Taylor, The Witch Files) who Kyle helped foster. Got all that? Well, you can forget it because most of it has no effect on the plot.

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If you’re wondering where Michael Jai White fits into all of this, he plays Sparks, Sam’s bodyguard. And like in the somewhat similar Assault on VA-33, Rogue Hostage does let him get in on the action very briefly, but the role is still a glorified cameo. He doesn’t even get an above the title credit on the poster.

Finally, after nearly an hour of drama, Keeyes get down to business and lets our hero loose on the bad guys. Unfortunately, since Eagan only has a couple of minions, there isn’t a lot of opportunities for action. And not a lot of action is what we get. It doesn’t help that Egan is one of the least threatening villains I’ve seen in a long time.

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He talks tough but seems to have problems actually killing hostages. Instead, he whines about how he’s discriminated against as a “hard-working white male”. He’s closer to an incel trolling Facebook than a real threat. You never believe he’ll detonate that suicide vest, which means there’s really no sense of danger at any point during Rogue Hostage. Actually, the film’s real badass is his man Jeb (John D. Hickman, Jiu Jitsu, Welcome to Willits) who keeps coming back despite being beaten with a crowbar and later set on fire.

The few action scenes we get aren’t worth sitting through Rogue Hostage’s tedious and talky first hour. Maybe if Keeyes and Solis had put as much effort into giving the film some unique twists as they did to create the web of connections between the characters, the results would have been better. And filmmakers need to find those unique twists because the time has passed when you can toss out a generic, low-end Die Hard clone and expect audiences to care about it.

Rogue Hostage is in limited theatrical release and is also available to stream and on DVD from Vertical Entertainment. You can check their Facebook page for more details.

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