Rampage is a film that is never going to trouble you. Seriously it’s not something that will make you think too deeply. Naomie Harris is on record as stating that this is a popcorn film. It’s an adventure and a chance to see big things hit each other in between destroying a city. Who could ask for more.
Rampage is based on an arcade game from the nineteen eighties. The premise is straightforward. A tech company has developed a product that can alter the genes of species in a certain way to intensify their size, strength and their aggression. The work is being carried out in secret on a space station due to its sensitivity. when the station runs into problems, breaks up and deposits three canisters on American soil do things get interesting. One canister lands in a forest and infects a wolf another in the swamp and the third in a zoo where an albino ape is dosed. He goes by the name of George and is under the care of primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson). When the ape starts to go on a spree and teams up with the wolf, Davis is spurred into action to find out what has happened to his friend and how he can save him.
If you can get with The Rock as a primatologist then you’re laughing. This looks like another movie that is purpose-built for the unique talents of Dwayne Johnson. He never gives anything less than 100% and here is no exception. It is his performance that raises this to a level above the usual action fare. His interactions with George are the highlight as they have a neat comedic double act going on using sign language and a couple of universally known rude gestures.
The film barrels along at a fair pace which really keeps the audience entertained. This is just as well as if you stopped to actually think about the plot there would be a number of questions springing to mind right away. As I said earlier, this is a film that doesn’t expect you to think too deeply about it and as it turns out, it doesn’t really matter. There is a simple pleasure to be had in watching giant animals crush everything in their path while the insignificant humans fail to cope with the situation.
The film has a constant barrage of action scenes which more than make up for the lack of character development. Aside from the ever watchable Johnson, the rest of the cast are overshadowed by the spectacle. Naomie Harris and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are both excellent actors but must have realised quite early on in the proceedings that their talents were no match for the visuals. As such their characters get limited time to express themselves. There is the seed of an interesting team there alongside Johnson which hopefully will be expanded in further films.
The antagonists are treated with even less care and attention than the sidekicks. The film makers obviously scanned around for relevant real life role models for the bad guys and took the obvious route of modelling them on the Trump siblings. It doesn’t really matter that they have no real arc to speak of. They are simply a plot device to get the animals to gigantic size and then attacking stuff. All in all it is perfectly serviceable.
This isn’t the most cerebral of films but it is funny and very entertaining.