Greg McLean has created a wonderful genre piece that capturs the majesty and danger of the Australian Outback while crafting an excellent genre piece that is tense and brutal while being fun and action packed.
Director: Greg McLean
Writer: Greg McLean
Producer: Greg McClean
Starring: Michael Vartan, Rhada Mitchell, and Sam Worthington
Tagline: How fast can you swim?
The pressure of a crocodile's bite is up to 5,000 pounds per square inch making it the strongest bite of any animal. These animals are known to reach 15 feet regularly and some have been said to be as long as 25 feet. The largest of these beasts are the salt water crocks found in Northern Australia and this is exactly what American travel writer, Pete McKell (Michael Vartan) encounters on a boat tour through an outback river guided by Kate Ryan (the always lovely Rhada Mitchell). Eventually stranded on a small island in a tidal river, the small shoreline is slowly disappearing and time is running out. Neil Kelly (Sam Worthington) becomes stranded on the island as well as a small group of sight seers while being systematically hunted by a large territorial crocodile.
Greg McLean has created a wonderful genre piece that is leaps and bounds above its peers. He has written a wonderful cast of characters who are all unique and memorable. He allows the film to start slowly giving the audience a chance to meet each character so when they are devoured by the hungry beast you actually care about their situation and this is something that is missing in so many genre pieces and even more so in the killer crock sub genre and giant beast movie in general. However the crocodile in this film, while extremely large is not completely unrealistic as there have been crocodiles' that have been spotted that are very near in size. McLean ratchets up the tension by using the tidal river and its rising levels as a way to create a sense of urgency which ultimately begins to drain those that are stranded and create cracks in the group which adds another layer of stress. Furthermore, Greg McLean is a master of cinematography and while he prefers to use handheld cameras he does not resort to the intense shaky cam that so many find preferable in today's action movies. His establishing shots are moody and breathtaking at the same time. I have never encountered a director who understands and creates shots of the outback more astonishing than Greg McLean.
The music is somewhat generic but effective all the same in creating that sense of tension that is so important in these types of genre films while the sound effects and visuals are realistic and compelling. McLean smartly shows us very little of the monster, instead waiting for the massive reveals late in the film. This technique is by far superior when dealing with this type of film and harkens back to Steven Spielberg's classic Jaws. Little glimpses, a tail, a splash of water or a missing tourist who was there only moments before create a tense atmosphere that makes one giddy with anticipation.
The film is not perfect and as is so common with these types of films, realism is thrown out the window very early on. Some of the characters act in the typical genre manner that makes you want to yell at the screen shouting, "What are you doing?" Very similar to the typical murder victim running up the stairs and hiding when they should be finding the nearest exit. However, the nearest exit is across a short breadth of water that is inhabited by our killer croc. The finale is also a bit fantastical but that is the nature of this type of film.
Rogue is Greg McLean's homage to not only the killer crock sub genre but also to his Australian home which he obviously loves so much. He understands that in this situation, even if you escape the monster you still have to deal with the treacherous surroundings. This is a fine entry into this category and by far the best that I have seen in quite some time. This is Greg McLean's second film, his first being Wolf Creek and while that was a very intriguing film it is hard to sit through as it is remarkably macabre and sometimes hard to watch. With Rogue he has honed his skill and created a brutal yet entertaining genre piece. Inspired by a true story (as was Wolf Creek) of a boat that was attacked by a large Crocodile in the 1970's, this film may not be for everyone but if you have any interest in the man eating beast sub genre they don't get much better than this.