Rampage is directed by Steve Peyton, and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Naomie Harris, Joe Manganiello, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It is based on the video game franchise of the same name.
A large corporation known as Energyne has devised a genetic editing method which enhances the properties of animals. Following a disaster on a space station which results in these canisters crashing down to earth, a trio of animals is infected, growing to large size and becoming destructive, in addition to gaining healing capabilities. Primatologist David Okoye, responsible for the care of George, an albino gorilla infected by one of the canisters, sets out to find a cure to help his animal friend, alongside a disgraced ex-Energyne scientist. But the creatures are on a collision course for Chicago, where greedy Energyne execs have their own plans.
Rampage is no masterpiece, and won’t win any awards for originality. It certainly won’t win any Oscars. It’s a big, dumb predictable popcorn movie with exciting action sequences, witty humor and one-liners, and not much else. There are better ways to spend your time at the movie theater, but there are far worse ones as well.
Despite its other shortcomings, there’s no arguing with the casting and the chemistry of the actors. Dwayne Johnson has become a sort of “go to” star for action movies in recent years, and he actually gives a pretty decent performance as the primatologist out to rescue his friend and prevent destruction at the hands of Energyne and the creatures they’ve mutated. The movie has its share of funny moments and one-liners, and unlike many attempts by films to combine action and comedy, this one isn’t half bad at juggling the two. The actual scenes are nothing new, but they do keep your attention.
The supporting cast members are just as good, including Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a mysterious government official who gets off to a not-so-pleasant start with Johnson’s character, but eventually becomes one of the best things about the film.
Unfortunately, Rampage never really lives up to its potential. The plot and many scenes throughout are predictable as hell. A group of “redshirt” soldiers go up against a wild monster with fairly basic weaponry. How do you think this is going to end? The heroes are on a flaming plane crash with seemingly no hope of survival. Do you think they survive? There are greedy “suits” who have their own plans for the canisters/animals/etc… nothing’s gonna go wrong for them, is it? You see where I’m going here. Pretty much every element in Rampage, you’ve seen done better in another film.
The movie also suffers from its opening segments being a bit misleading. The space intro is action packed but feels like it belongs in a different movie. Likewise, early scenes introduce a team of young primatologists in training under Johnson’s character, and they get some hilarious moments, but these characters are unjustly cast aside and forgotten after the first act. I would rather they have stayed in the movie than many of the paper-thin stereotypes we’re subjected to later.
I won’t defend Rampage like it’s holy, but I’m not going to say it’s a total loss either. This is an unabashed popcorn movie which makes no apologies for what it is. Cliched characters and plot elements are around every corner, but it’s balanced by some solid performances and humor in the chemistry of its actors. Rent it when it comes out on video.
Rating: Two stars out of four.