Endangered Species is a family action adventure thriller that never quite finds its footing. It’s not horrible, but so much is telegraphed from the get-go that it’s hard to get too invested in the superficial story, stereotypical characters, or even the wild animals that populate this Kenya Safari gone very wrong.
Here’s the gist: Jack and Lauren Halsey (Philip Winchester and Rebecca Romijn) take their son, daughter and her boyfriend on what is supposed to be the trip of a lifetime before the kids leave the nest for good. But it turns out the whole family is dealing with issues – physical and emotional – that are gonna be aired out while they fight for survival after a rhino topples their van.
Lesson #1: Don’t try and cut corners by skipping the guide/guard.
Lesson #2: Don’t go driving through a sign that says “Off Road: No Entry” when you don’t know where you’re going and you’re encroaching on the terrain of a variety of wild animals.
Lesson #3: Make sure you carefully secure the water and insulin.
Lesson #4: Beware of poachers – especially if one of them is played by Jerry O’Connell (Romijn’s real-life husband).
There are a few other no-duh lessons to be learned along the way, as the Halsey family tries to patch things up and say their “I love you’s” before they bleed out or go into diabetic shock. Some of it feels genuine, but much of it feels trite.
The strangest thing about this film is that writer/director MJ Bassett apparently intended to use it as a bully pulpit for animal conservation efforts. The cheesy ending is punctuated with an on-screen message about cruelty to rhinos and elephants — a valid concern that seems rather incongruous with the tone of the first two-thirds of the film.
Is it a message movie? A Jurassic Park wannabe? A vehicle for Romijn and O’Connell to go on a paid vacation? I’m really not sure.
Endangered Species is available on Digital, On Demand and in Select Theaters May 28, and on Blu-Ray and DVD June 1. It runs 101 minutes and is rated R for language, some violence and bloody images.