When you have a video game movie that involves gigantic animals trying to cause damage to anything that comes in sight and it’s only up to “The Rock” to stop all this madness, there’s no way anything would think it’s going to be good at all. But since it’s all happening in Rampage, why not? Three of those things combined made me want to see this, even in an ironic way.
Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) has a special friendship with George, an albino gorilla. After a rogue scientific experiment effects George and turns enormously tall, along with a grey wolf and a crocodile, rage out and are out to start a massive distraction on Chicago and maybe the world.
This is of course based loosely off the classic 1980s arcade game from Midway Games (never played). I say loosely because the difference between the film and the game is that there are no humans being turned into the rampaging animals. Even so, this could be fairly entertaining for a silly premise like this. Director Brad Peyton teams up with his San Andreas star for what could be a stupid, yet enjoyable movie. Maybe it was going to be a cross between Mighty Joe Young and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And I knew this wasn’t going to be the greatest movie ever, but I was secretly hoping this was going to be the next guilty pleasure. It didn’t end up like that because Rampage was pretty much a disposable monster flick. A guilty pleasure it’s not.
Personally, I love Johnson, and the charisma he brings to all of his films, even the terrible ones. If there anything that isn’t a negative about the overall movie is him. Since he became a successful action star in the past few years, he does a capable job in his role. Some of the situations he ends up with really made me question why he isn’t dead yet, but I wasn’t expecting realism for a movie like this. Though I didn’t feel the relationship between Davis and George since it wasn’t that emotional. Naomie Harris felt wasted in her role as a geneticist even when she’s beside Johnson she isn’t given that much to do.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is honestly chewing the scenery as agent Harvey Russell. Most of his lines were almost something Negan from The Walking Dead would say. That being said, it looked like he was having a ball with his performance.
My major complaint with Rampage is the story itself. Yes, I know nobody is supposed to take this seriously, but at least make me care about what’s taking place on screen. The writing, a script written by five writers, is both cheesy and awful. It sounded like something came out the poorly made action movies that you catch after midnight. And it’s because none of the human characters didn’t make me care about any of them once it started. I couldn’t care less about them when it was over. It was trying to make us care about this relationship between Davis and George, but it at least was making an effort. Accompanying that with the cracks at humor, it really didn’t work. For instance, George gives someone the middle finger early in the film. How funny that was.
If that’s not enough, Malin Akerman and Jack Lacy play some of the dumbest villains I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. They were just generic villains nobody cares about when they show up. Did we really need human antagonist when we already have giant monsters trying to cause chaos to the world? No. It’s there because the film needed a reason for this experiment to go wrong. They even have the actual “Rampage” arcade game in their office in the background. Not kidding. That’s supposed to be some kind of nod to the game, but that’s just lazy. Did they take a lesson from the Double Dragon movie?
The film finally gets to that entertaining stage in the last 30 minutes when we actually see some rampage with these monsters in downtown Chicago (why does the city always get trashed in action movies?). Everything was leading up to this moment, but it took a long time to really reach that point. The action sequences before the third act were fine, but the CGI didn’t look that impressive when all the destruction is occurring.
Is Rampage stupid? Yes, and I do mean it in a negative way. The attempts of what video game movies should try to accomplish just took a few steps back for what Rampage was going for. We just had Tomb Raider and it turned out to be a decent video game movie. But if you’re looking for some popcorn fun to be had before the better movies this summer kicks in, I don’t see why not. Despite all its rage, this film is still a stinker in a cage.
Rampage is big, dumb fun that any monster film can provide, although it’s not enough to call this entertaining.