In order to properly introduce Brad Peyton’s Rampage to you, I feel like I need to do it in a “movie trailer voice guy” tone. Are you ready? Let’s go.
“In a world where evil rich corporations are testing chemicals on lab rats in outer space with the hopes of selling wild government contracts, something goes terribly wrong. The chemicals smash into the Earth and infect other animals, which is bad news. How bad? I’m talking about a ten-foot gorilla who smashes everything. A 30-foot wolf who can fly and devour ten men at once! An alligator mixed with a giant lizard who got a Godzilla makeover. It’s bad, baby! Who do you call? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Davis Okoye. A special forces operative turned primatologist who is friends with the gorilla, named George. Can Davis rescue his friend, and in the process, save the world?!?!?
Welcome to Rampage. A big, loud, dumb, and absolutely fun action adventure where nothing makes any sense. Where else can you see King Kong, Godzilla, and an American Werewolf climb up the Willis Tower in Chicago and knock it to the ground? All the while, Johnson’s good-hearted tough guy is trying to stop it before everybody is crushed beneath the rubble. When you adapt a video game onto the big screen, you have to go all the way.
Listen, this is a film where The Rock doesn’t change shirts for the majority of the film. He’s like Arnold in Commando, just sub in video game creatures for the oily bad guys. He is tossed around, beaten up, punched, shot, and kicked-but there he is, firing helicopter machine guns at the monster. He’s the unbreakable freak of nature among other bigger freaks of nature.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s government agent may be the biggest delight of the film, because he’s oblivious to all the craziness going on around him. He fires off one-liners that Jeff Foxworthy would appreciate, doesn’t get a single stain on his white dress shirt, and is just having fun. He chews scenery here, lightly lifting the material as Johnson sprints through the action.
Naomie Harris cashes a paycheck as the disgraced doctor who knows all about the virus infecting the animals, and tries to help Okoye stop the madness. Joe Manganiello has a small part as a government hammer who battles the wolf. Malin Akerman and Jack Quaid are disposable suits plotting the entire evil plan. Johnson and Morgan seem to be the only ones in on the joke, so they fare the best.
Peyton previously directed Johnson in San Andreas and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, so there is a rapport building between the two, even if it’s more like Liam Neeson/Jaume Collett Serra than Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio. When you have a unique talent like the larger than life Johnson, you can throw him into any ridiculously plotted action flick and it will work. There’s a reason he makes $22 million per picture; the man could sell just about anything to a cinematic audience. He is a guilty pleasure in films like these.
The bond between Davis and George is legit. which aides the film. Jason Liles provides the motion-capture performance for George, which brings life to the playful interactions between the characters. You care about them and believe in their friendship, which makes a few of the late scenes difficult to endure yet create some pathos at the same time.
Look, in order to appreciate this film, you’re going to have to turn your brain off for a couple hours. If you think too hard, the experience will be tainted. Just sit back, watch The Rock fight the good fight, and enjoy the suspension of belief.
I had a good time because I expected fun nonsense. Rampage is like a big bucket of buttered popcorn with an Coke Cola on the side. It’ll put a smile on your face even if it disrupts your stomach later.