Hot Take: As far as video game movies go, this one isn’t terrible. “The Rock” probably deserves all the credit for that.
Maybe it’s a stupid criticism but Rampage feels like it should have been released in the summer. The mindless video game adaptation of a game whose plot is basically destroy cities with big mutated creatures was given a plot and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to give it a big screen adrenaline shot. The plot? Who cares! Johnson, however, continues to deliver as he can even take the most generic, pointless action plot and find a way to make it charming, fun and worth watching.
If you are looking for realism or believability, run don’t walk away from this film. At the center of Rampage is Energyne, an evil corporation hellbent on developing a serum that manipulates genes and creates gigantic, vicious deadly creatures (Yup!). When their space station is destroyed by a mutated lab rat (Yup!), the pieces of the escape pod containing the pathogen are spread to three parts of the United States. One lands in the San Diego Zoo where primatologist (Yup!) David Okoye (Johnson) works. One of the animals, George, a rare albino gorilla, is sprayed in the face by something in the debris that lands there. George begins to grow at an alarming rate and display signs of aggressive behavior. When Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) sees the story on the news, she immediately heads to the location to see what has happened because she created the serum and knows what it is capable of. Meanwhile, in Wyoming, a large wolf has begun a path of destruction despite the best efforts of evil Energyne owners Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) and her dimwitted brother Brett (Jake Lacy). Also, another piece landed in the Everglades and the bubbles in the water mean eventually there’ll be a third creature (Yup!). When George becomes a danger, the U.S. military steps in and Okoye and Dr. Kate are taken into custody by Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a member of a government agency known as OGA and owner of a ridiculous country accent (Yup!).
The rest of the film plays out exactly as you’d expect. The aggressive beasts wreak havoc while “The Rock” and friends try to save the world and evil Energyne tries to find a way to corral at least one of the beasts. Once all the pointless exposition gets out of the way, the movie turns into 95% action with the occasional cut scene to move the story along. It’s classic video game storytelling which isn’t very good storytelling but storytelling nonetheless. It helps that the film doesn’t take itself serious and “The Rock” is one of the best at balancing laughs and smoldering seriousness. It comes as no surprise that director Brad Peyton also worked with Johnson on San Andreas as the two films have a lot of similarities in their pacing and action sequences. As always, there’s a city to destroy at the center of these movies and in this one, Chicago gets devastated… eventually.
If you’re looking for the mindless action of summer blockbusters a little bit earlier than normal, Rampage is here to satisfy. The definition of a popcorn flick (as 99% of video game adaptations are), Rampage and specifically Dwayne Johnson come to deliver over-the-top action and plenty of PG-13 destruction and mayhem. It works, mostly. But don’t look for much of a plot. If that’s what you’ve come for, you’ve landed in the wrong theater.
The idea of an oversized gorilla giving people the finger at least makes you smirk.
You smell what “The Rock” is cookin’ and don’t think it would taste too great.