On assignment in the Northern Territory, American travel writer Pete (Michael Vartan) joins a small group of tourists on a typical river cruise in salt water crocodile country, operated by tour guide Kate (Radha Mitchell). During a short detour, their boat is almost overturned by a violent jolt from underwater, and they drive the leaking boat aground on a small island, but out of radio contact with base. They soon realize they have stumbled into the territory of a huge, possessive salt water croc, who sets about viciously collecting a harvest of food to store in his cavernous lair, while the survivors search desperately for a way off the island - before high tide and the night close in.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Rogue is a ripper of a thriller. From its evocative, economical title to its bright and breezy end credits pop song (Never Smile at a Crocodile) Rogue delivers everything you could want from a high class creature feature/adventure thriller. Sensational images of the Northern Territory (bookings are assured) counteract any nerves that potential tourists might have about croc danger, and give us a cinematic joy ride, helped aloft by Francois Tetaz' wonderful, rich and melodic orchestral score. The music also adds a couple of million dollars worth of grandeur.
But ultimately, it's Greg McLean's triumph, a cohesive piece of writing and direction that finds exactly the right mix of commercial and creative balance to bring in a movie that can charm and scare us by turns, that offers credible characters and an unmistakable Australian ethos - and still accommodate an American guest star (Michael Vartan, who turns out to be a good bloke). All the performances are grounded and McLean doesn't allow the US dollars to shake his hold on veracity - either in characterisation or in plot. In fact, with the exception of one piece of inconsistency (which I can't go into without giving away a crucial plot point), McLean doesn't put a foot wrong, increasing the tension in masterful fashion, always credibly, always in touch with the characters.
Radha Mitchell is totally captivating as the young tour guide, delivering a great mix of confident Territorian and sensitive human being. She and Vartan work well together, and the gentle romantic undercurrent is neatly handled. John Jarratt, McLean's baddie from Wolf Creek, is a tubby, grieving widower, while Sam Worthington plays a lout with a heart of gold in style. Indeed, all the supports are tops, notably a darkly comic Stephen Curry and edgy Damien Richardson.
Superb cinematography and production design complement McLean's sophisticated cinema skills (and Jason Ballantine's faultless editing), often demonstrated in small and simple things like detail shots and framing, and most importantly in a film like this, what NOT to show. Rogue will chew up the box office - deservedly.
Review by Louise Keller:
From the man-inflicted horrors of Wolf Creek, writer director Greg McLean has taken his next project into the snapping jaws of a gigantic man-eating crocodile. Rogue is a snap-crackling creature feature imbued with anticipation and tension that ably delivers scares and bloody crunches on a magnificent, dramatic Australian backdrop. The setting is remote and the characters are all out of their comfort zone. From laid-back Aussie larrikin to stitched-up tourist, inevitable tensions are ignited as the different personalities are thrown together in dire circumstances. Engaging and involving at each plot point, McLean brings together all the elements with assurance and panache, delivering a cracker of a genre film with wide appeal.
After an effective prologue which takes us into the expansive, remote Australian landscape with its spectacular sunrises, imposing rock-faces and unspoilt waterways, a dusty greyhound bus pulls up. It is through the eyes of Michael Vartan's Pete, a travel writer accustomed to cushy hotel resort junkets that our adventure begins. Things are not going well for Pete - his luggage has been lost in the long haul from Chicago, the flies are sticking in the heat, and the other passengers on the primitive wild-life river cruise are getting on his goat. Radha Mitchell's skipper Kate has plenty of appeal, as she valiantly tries to keep a lid on the unexpected. The sudden arrival of Sam Worthington and Stephen Curry's larrikins on the river ('we're the wild life') adds an injection of true blue, and when the boat is grounded on a tiny island whose existence is quickly determined by the oncoming tide, we know that things are going to get much worse.
There's a swish of an oversize tail, the crunching of bones in a formidable jaw and the body count begins. 'A steam-train with teeth,' is how Weta Workshop's imposing crocodile creation is described, its massive scaled body slinking effortlessly into the water after devouring its prey. Day turns into night and terror accelerates as options become fewer. The diverse music is a treat - from the atmospheric didgeridoo of the opening sequence to the tongue-in-cheek 'Never smile at a croco-dile', which acts as a sly wink to audiences as the end credits roll. Rogue, indeed.
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GREG McLEAN INTERVIEW
CAST: Radha Mitchell, Michael Vartan, Sam Worthington, Stephen Curry, John Jarratt, Robert Taylor, Heather Mitchell, Mia Wasikowska, Geoff Morrell, Celia Ireland, Damien Richardson
PRODUCER: Matt Hearn, David Lightfoot
DIRECTOR: Greg McLean
SCRIPT: Greg McLean
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Will Gibson
EDITOR: Jason Ballantine
MUSIC: Francois Tetaz
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robert Webb
OTHER: John Cox Creature Workshop; Fuel (VFX)
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 8, 2007