Rampage Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Big Monsters, a city in distress & with Dwayne Johnson as the hero rescuer. But can ‘The Rock’ save this blockbuster from bombing in theatres?
Genre: Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Åkerman, Jake Lacy, Marley Shelton, Joe Manganiello, P.J. Byrne, Demetrius Grosse & Matt Gerald.
Run Time: 107 min.
US Release: 13 April 2018
UK Release: 11 April 2018
German Release: 10 May 2018
Welcome to my review of yet another video game adaptation, moulded from the popular video game series of the same name. Before dissecting this flick, however, I need to confess that I never played any Rampage games, so I don’t have any background knowledge or personal experience I could have taken with me to the cinema. Question is, though, can this movie convince or does it belong in that big cupboard, holding other failed attempts at creating decent films that are based on video games?
When three different animals get infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist, a geneticist and a government agent are forced to team up to stop them from levelling Chicago. With the animals running rampant, time is of the essence.
Rampage is nothing more than a cheap cash-grab, made apparent by the story that doesn’t have much to offer, as the game is a simple destruction-level arcade game. What it does, is include a lazy sub-message, about gene-hacking and animal abuse but the idea is not properly developed, thus it is overshadowed by the ludicrously absurd main plot - the destruction of a major city by monsters. This is also where the feature fails, as it doesn’t even work as a brainless, entertaining monster flick since the narrative, which started somewhat interesting, is quickly flushed down the drain and replaced with something far dumber.
Thus, instead of obtaining a fun disaster movie, with giant angry animals trampling around the streets of Chicago, the audience needs to sit through two-thirds of a cheesy, cliché filled dumbstruck story, before finally obtaining what this movie promised in the trailers. However, all of this is overshadowed by the fact that just one of the three monsters is memorable, and that is because the giant white ape is rendered as a cheap copy of the beloved King Kong. Finally, there is the fact that it deprives the main monster of a noteworthy ending, which might have given the flick a little bit of depth.
Having read a little bit about the game after watching this blockbuster in theatres, the original monsters used to be humans transformed into beasts. That might have given Rampage more of an interesting edge, nailing the message about gene manipulation, as the audience could have bonded better with the monsters.
It comes without saying, but this is a ridiculous flick, constantly asking the viewer to turn off their sense of disbelief and portraying personas unrealistically. Every single one of the “good guys” is beaten up, thrown around with heavy force, or falling from ridiculous heights, without obtaining serious injuries, deflating any build-up of tension. The worst, however, are the villains, who act truly stupid. The sheer fact that these “idiots” didn’t get caught much earlier by a law agency is simply stunning.
The Rock gives once again a charismatic, if not unrealistic, portrayal. His character David Okoye is a former US special forces soldier, now working as a primatologist, a character trade that is simply hard to accept as a viewer. I am not saying that it is not possible but It is also not believable! While trying to save his friend, the albino gorilla George, The Rock’s character has survived several disastrous encounters with different enemies, yet not even once does it give the impression that this guy is in real danger. He is being portrayed as this superhuman who would survive just about anything - a nuclear explosion included.
That said, it is also The Rock, who along with Jeffrey Dean Morgan carries this film. He is as always incredibly charming and his friendship, as well as his concern for George, is believable. Honestly, I don’t understand why The Rock always chooses these cheap scripts, he did prove that he is capable of roles with deeper character traits.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as agent Harvey Russell, was an entertaining addition to this hot mess of a video-game blockbuster adaptation. He even managed to outshine The Rock at times, not only having great chemistry with the former WWW star but also acting in a more believable and entertaining role. He embodied a cartoonish version of a John McClane wannabe, he embodied the persona of a loveable scumbag.
Former Energyne employee Dr. Kate Caldwell, played by Naomie Harris, is an irritatingly bland character, only used to dump exposition through her knowledge of her former employer and the work she did there, at first. While progressing through the plot, she turns into the outdated damsel in distress, who needs to get constantly saved by Johnson. She is given a short backstory, meant to be emotional so the viewer can sympathise with her.
Rounding off the cast are Malin Åkerman and Jake Lacy, who play the villainous sibling duo of Claire and Brett Wyden, CEO of Energyne. These characters are portrayed most lazily! They have no depth or intelligence, being evil simply for evil sakes… as well as for monetary reasons.
Director Brad Peyton has an eye for capturing destructive action, as proven with his previous films San Andreas and even Journey 2 (both coincidentally also starring ‘The Rock’). This is also mostly true for Rampage, in which he details how these giant monsters level the Windy City of Chicago, and while there are a few action segments spread throughout the film, it is sad to see that the real eye-candy is reduced to a 20-minute action sequence at the end of the blockbuster. However, the cinematographic choices are not always convincing, in fact, sometimes it is hard to see or understand what is happening during an action sequence.
As for the computer-generated imagery, while it is used well to display the demolition caused to the big city, the only monster that is properly designed is George. The other mutated animals are rendered half-heartedly, especially the crocodile who just appears at the end of the third act, as the last monster to fight. The outcome being that the battle looks unrealistic and all tension is taken from the last action scene.
Verdict: This action blockbuster is sadly no more than a cheap popcorn flick with little entertainment value. The message about gene hacking and CRISPR is half-assed and lazily written, obscured by the crazy action sequences of monsters levelling a metropolitan city. The only entertaining values are The Rock, who plays a muscle-packed primatologist and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as a government agent. Both have impeccable chemistry, as well as being very charismatic! The action sequences are fun to watch, but the effects are not fully convincing. The villains are laughably stupid, it is a miracle they haven’t been caught earlier, and Naomi Harris’ character is used as an exposition dump, or as a constant damsel in distress. Rampage is sadly one of those video-game adaptations that deserve to be tossed into a dumpster! I can’t give it more than a 4.5 out of 10.
Do you agree with my review? Leave a comment to let me know.