An abysmal and sadly po-faced military actioner that has risen to inexplicable popularity on Netflix, Rogue Warfare: The Hunt is so bad it’s just… bad.
Netflix’s various algorithms are virtually impossible to figure out or predict, but its user base is even more confounding. These two facts taken together might explain the sudden and inexplicable popularity of Rogue Warfare: The Hunt, or Rogue Warfare 2, the middle child of three low-budget, generally inept and woefully serious military actioners that for some reason has become one of the most-watched films on the platform in the last day or so. I can’t really explain or understand why this has happened, but I can say with relative certainty that, based on the film’s actual quality, it really shouldn’t have.
If there’s anything to be admired about this film, it’s the sheer simplicity of it. You can describe it in one sentence: The leader of an elite multi-national military team is kidnapped by terrorists, and the rest of the squad are dispatched by the President to rescue him. That’s it. The leader is Daniel (Will Yun Lee). I didn’t catch any other names besides Commander Brisco, mostly because he’s played by the prolific Chris Mulkey. But names aren’t important in films like this; the various operatives are basically stand-ins for entire nationalities, and they’re up against the cartoonishly stereotypical denizens of some vague Middle Eastistan composite led by a “Supreme Leader” who dresses very much like a wizard and spends a big chunk of the film moodily berating his acolytes.
Directed by stuntman Mike Gunther from a woefully stilted script by Andrew Emilio DeCesare that delights in a lot of hard-bitten military patter and absurdly long-winded criticisms of the West’s rotten moral center, there’s no character development and no plot in Rogue Warfare: The Hunt, and also no humor or self-awareness. Such a dreary film could have done with a gag or two, but no such luck here; instead, we’re to put up with interminable scenes filmed against shoddy-looking sets in which we see an actor pull a trigger and then see a blood bag detonate in the general vicinity of an extra. Every action sequence plays out in this way, and all of them go on much too long, although some stretch to a silly dollop of VFX splatter, just to keep things exciting.
I use that word “exciting” with as much sarcasm as possible, obviously, since this isn’t the kind of flick to which that word really applies. It’s making a vague feint towards realism and grim-faced seriousness, which only hinders it, reducing what could be pocket-money pastiche to painfully sincere – and thoroughly misguided – low-brow try-hard macho nonsense. It’s the military action equivalent of something like Tyler Perry’s A Fall From Grace – an incompetent and eye roll-worthy TV-quality bit of genre claptrap.
If anything’s going rogue it’s whatever arcane wizardry at Netflix pushed this to the forefront of people’s thumbnails.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.