Lately, it seems that we have created a whole genre of films just for Dwayne Johnson and no one should be sad about it. He has built a career for himself playing a charismatic and funny guy who also happens to be a total badass, which is just what Rampage needed. As proven by the fact that whenever he isn’t on screen the movies flimsy premise begins to show.
Rampage starts with an attempt to set a serious tone, it opens with a short scrawl describing the discovery of gene-modding in the 90’s that was quickly outlawed as a weapon of mass destruction. Next we find ourselves on a wrecked space station where something has gone terribly wrong sending three canisters with dangerous contents down onto the Earth below. Story setup concluded the movie gets on with it, bringing Dwayne Johnson’s Davis Okoye into the mix as quickly as possible in a comedic scene showing the relationship between himself and a large albino gorilla, George. From the first we see that George and Davis have a close and sweet relationship, joking through sign language and communicating as old friends. When George is inevitably exposed to the biochemical he starts to grow and show uncharacteristic aggression, leading Davis to decide he will find a way to save his buddy, no matter what.
There are of course some campy villains to this story, a sister and brother, played by Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy, who increasingly reminded me of the Rocky and Bullwinkle villains, Boris and Natasha. Despite their cartoonish characters, they strike a decent balance of funny and bumbling menace that works well with the tone of the rest of the film. Unfortunately, by the end that takes just a little too long to get to, it becomes clear they are there only to provide the thinnest veneer of logic to the plot.
For those who aren’t aware, Rampage takes its inspiration from a series of video games of the same name, most notably the original 1980’s arcade cabinet game. The games allow the players to be monsters attempting to destroy cities, but other than that one fact and a few fun references for diehard fans, the movies share little content with the games. However, despite its lack of similarity to the source material, the big-budget action scenes give it the feel of the old disaster movies the game was trying to simulate.
Brad Payton did a great job bringing together the best bits possible from the concepts. Dwayne Johnson is the perfect comedic element to keep the paper-thin story rolling and audiences interested. He also brings a nurturing attitude towards George that makes their friendship believable. The CGI and special effects are impeccably done, making easy to sink into the world and forget just how outlandish the story on screen really is. Rampage is a light and fun experience that is the epitome of escapist storytelling that also happens to be pretty damn well done.