Video game films have a long tradition of being terrible. The best video game movies generally tend to not even focus on a specific game, like Wreck It Ralph or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It’s very clear that Hollywood does not understand the audience, despite moderate hits like the recent release of Tomb Raider. So when it was time to review the new Rampage movie, based on the classic Midway arcade game of the same name, my expectations were low. By the time the credits rolled, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the movie played out. It’s not amazing, but it was far better than expected, so let’s take a closer look at the film in my Rampage movie review.
Rampage is another Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson action spectacle directed by Brad Peyton, the same person who directed The Rock in San Andreas back in 2015. The basic premise of the film follows primatologist, Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), a military vet who is now working with wildlife in San Diego and serves as a friend to all animals. He teams up with Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) as they try to stop genetically mutated animals from destroying Chicago.
Dwayne Johnson is his usual charismatic self, but he’s not the highlight of the film. That honor falls to government agent, Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who easily has the best lines and clearly the most fun out of anyone in the film. He’s a confident cowboy who doesn’t care what you think and isn’t afraid to put you in check. He steals scenes from The Rock and is generally the most likeable character in Rampage.
The second breakout role in the film goes to George, a rare albino silverback gorilla who is close friends with Davis Okoye and one of the animals affected by the genetic mutations. The effects of this CG character are on par with those found in the new Planet of the Apes films, truly bringing the character to life and making him an integral part of Rampage. George communicates with Davis Okoye via sign language, allowing him to add humor to many of his scenes and really become a key character in the film.
While Rampage does a lot of things right, it’s far from a perfect action movie. The brother, sister duo heading up the evil corporation behind the genetic mutations offer some extremely cringe-worthy scenes. The mastermind behind all of this is Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman), with her brother, Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy) serving as her bumbling sidekick. Both of these thespians have shown acting chops in previous work, but in Rampage the script limitations of their one-sided, shallow characters severely limit their acting ability. It’s almost as if these two were written in as a last minute addition, because they lack any kind of substance and bring down the movie as a whole.
There hasn’t been a proper Rampage game since 2006, but to tie-in with the film there’s a cash grab arcade title exclusively featured at Dave & Busters, as well as a mobile game and a flash game. However, if any fans of the classic Rampage game are looking for some nods from the film, don’t get too invested. There are a couple of Easter eggs, but overall the only real references to the game are the names of the monsters and the fact that most of the devastation takes place in Chicago, the city where the original arcade game was developed. Other than those tidbits, Rampage is a video game film in name only, as expected.
Aside from the antagonists in the film and one or two scenes with questionable special effects, Rampage is a fun action flick. There are plenty of over-the-top, unbelievable action sequences, but that’s what these films are made to provide. If you buy a ticket to see a film about giant monsters destroying a city, you know what you’ve signed up for, and Rampage delivers that in spades.
Synopsis: Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry transforms this gentle ape into a raging monster. As these newly created monsters tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.
Director: Brad Peyton
Writers: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman
Runtime: 1 Hour, 47 Minutes