Directed by Brad Peyton.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Breanne Hill, Jack Quaid, Matt Gerald, Jason Liles, Demetrius Grosse, and Will Yun Lee.
When an experiment in genetic editing goes disastrously wrong, an albino gorilla is artificially enlarged to extraordinary size and develops dangerous levels of aggression, as his primatologist friend tries to bring him back under control.
Can you believe we are finally getting good video game films? Between Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Tomb Raider, and to some extend Ready Player One, it’s been a great year for films that don’t necessarily follow a video game’s story but the feel you get from playing them. Rampage, starring Dwayne “The man who can make any franchise better” Johnson is based on a 32-year-old arcade game that had players take control of a King Kong-knockoff, a Godzilla-ripoff and a giant wolf and wreak as much havoc on a city as your quarters allowed. With such a simple premise, it was almost impossible for the filmmakers to fuck up and somehow disappoint the hardcore fans of the game.
Rampage is directed by Brad Peyton, the man who gave us the sequel to Cats & Dogs, and in his third collaboration with the man of smouldering intensity, Dwayne Johnson – after San Andreas and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (remember when The Rock was hired as a replacement for Brendan Fraser?). Johnson plays incredibly muscular primatologist Davis Okoye, a misanthropic hunk that rejects every girl that tries to ask him out and instead spends time developing a platonic love affair with his best friend George (Jason Liles). George is an orphaned, albino gorilla with such mastery of sign language that he makes Koko look stupid by comparison. He is also a sadistic dick with a sick sense of humour.
Despite the carnage and destruction to come, the film never loses sight of the central bromance. Dwayne Johnson keeps showing off how the fact that he not only has charisma to spare but has perfect chemistry with every living creatures and inanimate object in the universe. I may be so bold as to declare the CGI for the creatures in Rampage is even better than the mo-cap from War for the Planet of the Apes. Because they are not trying to make the apes act human, they look more real. Despite not showing his face, Jason Liles is the heart and soul of this film. His performance makes the giant finger-flipping albino gorilla a threatening as well as a captivating figure capable of making you shed a tear in a film that has the balls to have a character say, “When science shits the bed, I’m the guy they call to change the sheets”.
After a freakish accident, George as well as two other animals start growing at alarming rates and becoming inexplicably violent as well as bullet proof. This forces government villain/hero/who-knows-anymore, Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) seek out Davis and George, as well as a disgraced scientist played by Naomie Harris who looks ashamed to even be associated with this film. By comparison, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is having the time of his life playing a slightly nicer version of Negan from The Walking Dead and engaging in a will-they-won’t-they bromance with Dwayne Johnson’s character which is amusing to watch. The villains in Rampage are the weakest part by far. Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy play moustache-twirling villains that act like they belong in a cheap TV-show for children. Their plan is the most ridiculous thing to be put on film in the 21st century (the beginning of the film is an illegal science experiment going wrong, because everyone knows laws don’t apply in space!).
Rampage offers the kind of big monster fights we’ve all been craving since 2014’s Godzilla, but with the entertainment of Pacific Rim. This film is also one of the most gruesomely violent PG-13 films in recent years, with some truly gory stuff being barely hidden in the background to satisfy those thirsty for blood, while not traumatizing the little ones. Innocent people are crushed, eaten alive, blown to pieces, tossed from skyscrapers, all while a giant gorilla gives you the finger. Isn’t that what going to the movies is all about?
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★ / Movie: ★★★★