Over the years, there have been many disaster or monster movies that have provided spectacle on a grand scale: Independence Day (aliens), Deep Impact (asteroids), The Day After Tomorrow (climate change), Godzilla (err… Godzilla), the list goes on. Rampage can definitely be added to the list, even if it is somewhat mindless.
Starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Rampage is an adaptation of the 1986 arcade game of the same name. Its success spawned the 1997 sequel, Rampage World Tour, which was also later ported to home consoles. That eventually led to more games, including console exclusives such as Rampage 2: Universal Tour and Rampage Through Time.
The plot is simple: Johnson’s David Okoye attempts to stop the military from killing his mutated primate friend George, an albino gorilla going on a – you guessed it – rampage through America, alongside his fellow mutated creatures, a massive wolf, and a dinosaur-like crocodile (or is it an alligator? It’s hard to tell). It all culminates spectacularly in downtown Chicago, which is truly a CGI sight to behold. It does admittedly trade on nostalgia pretty heavily (even featuring the two original arcade game cabinets in the background of one locale), but then again, the property isn’t exactly the most beloved of its time in the first place.
It’s very reminiscent of 2015’s San Andreas – no shock, considering it also starred Johnson, was also directed by Brad Peyton, and was also written by Carlton Cuse. The trio clearly reached into the same bag of tricks for Rampage, and just replaced ‘natural disaster’ with ‘mutated animals’ – it’s more or less the same results, albeit on a smaller scale.
As one might expect, the acting is more or less non-existent in this movie. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – after all, the audience is there to see gigantic monsters destroy helicopters, tanks, and buildings, not Oscar-worthy performances. Even so, Johnson is his usual charismatic self, absolutely filling up the screen with his presence, both physical and otherwise.
Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Moonlight) fills in as geneticist Dr. Kate Campbell, who helped create the pathogen that initially mutates the creatures, while Canada’s own Malin Akerman (Watchmen) joins as her former boss Claire Wyden, the CEO bent on weaponizing it all for profit. Akerman’s fellow Watchmen alum Jeffrey Dean Morgan also hangs around as a mysterious government spook, complete with cowboy accent and pearl-handled gun – suffice to say, the scenery is chewed pretty thoroughly.
The interactions between George and Okoye are perhaps the most entertaining parts, which span multiple sign language conversations throughout the film’s 1h 47m runtime. Unfortunately, there are just too many human characters – the stubborn military colonel, the CEO’s hapless brother, the two lab assistants – for a movie whose entire premise is ‘come watch monsters blow things up’. It does bog things down a bit, and ultimately just takes away from more scenes of entertaining destruction, which is the whole point.
Any audience member that’s decided to see Rampage in the first place has already accepted a few things about what’s to come before the first trailer even pops up on the screen. If monster-fueled destruction is what you want, then Rampage certainly delivers. While on the scale of Armageddon to Geostorm, it does unfortunately land closer to the latter, it’s still a fun few hours – might as well buckle up, and enjoy yourself.
Rampage is now playing in cinemas.
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