Davis Okoye is a primate specialist at San Diego Wildlife centre. He comes into work one day to find that his friend, an albino Gorilla, called George has grown double his size. Turns out that overnight a space laboratory dealing with genetic editing suffered a catastrophic incident that sends their test samples plummeting to earth, one in George’s enclosure, one in the middle of a wolf-infested forest and the other in the Everglades of Florida.
So Rampage is a video game movie. It is based on the video game series that first came out in 1986, so we already have pretty low expectations. However, when I left the theatre, I found myself looking back on Rampage in a positive light. It is here that we need to put them into perspective. While it is true that most, if not all, video game movies have not been great, some have been laughably bad; Rampage should not be counted among these. Though I will be quick to say that Rampage is good for a video game movie that does not necessarily make it a good film. I think that the perfect way to describe Rampage is it’s a good TV movie, it is something that people will forget about but if you happen to like the things that Rampage provides then if you catch it flicking through channels, it will be the film for you.
The reason why I say that Rampage is that sort of movie is because of the stuff that happens outside of the titular rampages. The plot is lacking in any development or progression what so ever. None of the characters have character arches and appears to end the film in exactly the same place as they started it. This is especially true of our main character Davis Okoye. Though Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is effortlessly charming, Davis himself starts the film as an antisocial individual, he is affable and friendly, but he prefers the company of animals to people due to his past as a Special Forces operative. This does not change by the end of the film, there are no moments when his worldview is challenged at all leading to the development of a character. This is similar to Naomie Harris’ Dr Kate Caldwell, who had her character arch before the movie even started. I call specific attention to her because the film does some incredibly weird things with her. There are some terrible story decisions that happen towards the end, that compromise characters and leave entire interesting sounding plot lines mentioned but not followed through.
However, despite these flaws within the intellectual structure of the film, Rampage still stays an entertaining romp, in the same way that Pacific Rim did, though Pacific Rim is still the superior film. This is because you have high intensity, dumb action from one scene to the next with massive creatures and the Rock running around like a lunatic being as charming as he always is. However, the film is aware of how dumb it is and leans into it with a sense of fun and energy that powers you through the film’s not so great bits. I mean you have a giant gorilla fighting a giant wolf and something that could have been a Godzilla villain, with our heroes riding a building as it collapses. Then we come to the villains of the piece. While Clair and Brett Wyden, played by Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy, aren’t complex or really necessary to the plot, they both ham it up, chewing the scenery whenever they can, as does Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Harvey Russell, a government agent who falls in with Okoye and Caldwell.
Rampage is a good cinema film due to its sheer amount of action and bombast. It does take a while for this to kick in but when it does it is loud and incredibly fun. Though it does have flaws, hopefully, its energy and charismatic cast will help you push through those. I will readily admit that this is no masterpiece and while it is not going to be remembered past its release date, Rampage does exactly what it says on the tin with giant monsters and The Rock going on a predictable but enjoyable Rampage.
You can watch Rampage in cinemas now