I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to call this one something of a "hidden gem" this summer (at least, not a lot of people are saying anything about it on my end), but I will say that if you're looking for something a bit different for a thriller, this is a pretty good place to look. It's a fine example of a current man vs nature story, Idris Elba is the headliner, and there's plenty of good intensity throughout the film to keep you on the edge of your seat. For me, there was only one thing really holding it back, but I'll get to that soon.
Dr. Nate Samuels (Elba) heads on a safari vacation to the Mopani Reserve in South Africa to reconnect with his old friend, a biologist by the name of Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley). Along with Nate are his two daughters, Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Jeffries), and the point of the trip is for Nate to reconnect with his daughters, following the tragic passing of his wife/their mother. We find out that she grew up in the area, and that Martin had introduced the pair, initially. Things go pretty well until Nate, Martin and Nate's daughters happen across an entire small village of people who have seemingly been attacked by something vicious and huge or, more specifically, a lion who has gone totally nuts.
As for the rest of the film, I might say the best way to think about it is a very 'Jurassic Park'-like situation, but with one terrifying, big lion as opposed to say, a T-Rex, or a velociraptor. Now, some of that 'JP' comparison includes, as I previously mentioned, the one thing really holding the film back. Remember in the original 'JP' when the T-Rex got out, and Lex grabs a flashlight from the back of the jeep, shining it all over the place, practically signalling the Rex to attack said jeep? That type of stupidity is constant with the daughters here. I can't count how many times I shook my head, facepalmed or at least rolled my eyes. Nothing against these two young actresses, but the writers made these characters almost extra stupid, and it didn't help the movie to make them damsels in distress.
But what we're really here to see, obviously, is Idris Elba fighting a lion with his bare hands like some kind of badass warrior. Well, no worries, because there's plenty of facing off against this creature. But I have to admit that there are many times you must throw reality out the window because the way this lion plays with its prey isn't entirely believable (as in how uninjured the prey is after being toyed with). With that said, I don't pretend to know a whole bunch about lions and how they work. I just can't imagine being able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off after some of the attacks that take place throughout the film. Although I will say that the attacks in question ARE quite unnerving. A lot of it takes me back to 'The Edge' with the bear attack, or 'Frozen' with the wolf attack (that's the non-Disney version).
All in all, other than the two daughters driving me batshit crazy for a lot of it, this is a pretty solid title as far as it being suspenseful and even kinda scary a lot of the time. However, if you're someone who really hates seeing stupidity unfold during a movie - you know, "don't go in there, you just saw the killer go in there!" then I'd honestly recommend avoiding it. It's not JUST these two girls doing it, either. I may be being a little harsh, as I'm sure the director was going for "panic" and "not thinking straight" here, but that can only go so far until it gets tiresome. I don't see the film doing incredibly well this year, but between this, 'Thor', 'Sonic 2' and 'Three Thousand Years of Longing', Elba will definitely be fine.