A family is threatened by poachers and nature on a trip to Africa.
Directed by Evelyn Purcell
Starring Stephen Dorff, Maisie Williams, and Svetlana Metkina
Initial Review by Chris Cook
The basic story is that the three venture to Africa on a work trip to study a pack of hyenas—Paul, the scientist, or professor or whatever the hell he was; Tally, his Russian girlfriend; and Josie, his troubled and possibly drug-taking daughter. The first good chunk of the movie sets Paul up to be the protagonist and we’re dealing with family issues; the daughter hates the girlfriend, the daughter hates that her dad is always away, the daughter hates being in Africa, etc.
After enough bitching, it’s decided that Josie can return home to her mother. A mishap run-in with some poachers leaves Paul dead and Josie (or Arya, as I might accidentally call her in the future) on the run. She reconnects with Tally (who had stayed behind, but had to leave the campsite after hyenas got into her supplies). The two of them are now hiding from the poachers because they know too much about their apparent operation, which I don’t believe was really explained (they were poaching a rhino and I saw lots of firearms). This is where the protagonist role tends to shift to Tally, whose character now shifts to an alpha female role, dominate and protective—like a hyena (sigh).
If this was supposed to be an action/adventure/suspense movie, there wasn’t much available. Problems experienced throughout the movie included a dead iPad battery, getting stung by a scorpion, a sandstorm, a search airplane flying around multiple times but never finding them and numerous stare-downs with hyenas.
I did like the “hyenas, hyenas, hyenas” line by Josie. But seriously, with all the hyenas, not even the Lion King’s Shenzi, Banzai and Ed could’ve saved this one.
The “villains,” if you can even really call them that, were a joke. The leader, played by Peter Stormare, didn’t show much authority that it was his operation and that he was in charge. One guy was the worst security guard in cinematic history; Shooty McGee, the guy that actually killed Paul, was a stereotype and hard to understand at times. The only villain that was interesting was the one that rode around with Shooty McGee. Having a daughter himself, he allows the two women to escape during a non-climatic gun battle toward the end that for some reason went into super slow motion at one point. But by the time he showed some character, we were passed the point that I stopped caring.
Some random thoughts …
At their base camp toward the beginning, when they were watching the hyenas, how many freakin’ tents did they need? It looked like a small army had set up camp.
When the poachers return to the crashed car, it was daytime wasn’t it? But it was nighttime when they left. How long did it take them to bury a body and set a car on fire? What the hell else did they do? Comb the desert?
The end of the movie shows Tally and Josie visiting the grave that the poachers put Paul in. They put flowers on top. So, Paul’s wishes were to be buried in a shallow grave in the middle of an African desert? Wouldn’t they retrieve the body and take it home?
I don’t know about this one. The only thing I do know is that had Maisie Williams portrayed the character of Arya Stark in this movie, those poachers would’ve all been in deep shit and dead a lot sooner. This movie tried, but definitely failed. And my bad movie trend continues; going D+ with this one.