Updated: Feb 6, 2020
Rampage is a big, loud, sci-fi/action/giant monster movie starring Dwayne Johnson. It is everything that sentence suggests; nothing more, nothing less. It can be funny and exciting and is pretty much what you want when you go to see a summer action flick (even though it is still only April). It gets a little repetitive after awhile but, for the most part, it is a fun diversion.
Dwayne Johnson, flexing his charismatic action hero muscles, is Davis Okoye, a primatologist attempting to protect his gorilla friend, George, when George is one of a few creatures infected with something that makes them grow to a massive size. A lot of running, screaming and explosions ensue.
Rampage has a goofy premise (loosely based on the arcade game of the same name) involving enormous, genetically altered animals freaking out and causing havoc. And it has a good time with it. The plot is there to set up the special effects and that is all. That allows the film to spend much of its length on what it does best. Namely, Johnson’s macho posturing and plenty of giant animal destruction.
Though Rampage (100 minutes minus the end credits) is predictably light on character development, it does a solid job establishing the relationship between Davis and George. They communicate using sign language and the screenplay wastes no time making George sympathetic. That is important because we have to understand why Davis would risk everything for George instead of allowing the government to take care of things themselves. Their friendship is actually reasonably charming and funny. George is given a lot of personality and gets the biggest laughs in the movie.
The cast is entertaining overall, but most of them just advance the story in between explosions. Naomie Harris runs around with the hero as a doctor who may be able to help George. She is the implied love interest, however the film does not have time for romance. Nevertheless, she and Davis do look at each other like maybe they will go get some drinks after the movie. Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems as though he is thoroughly enjoying himself as a mysterious agent. And Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy chew up the scenery as the (rather pointless) villains.
While the story and characters are extremely simple, Rampage is diverting because of knowingly silly dialogue and some impressive action. There are a bunch of amusing moments showing the animals casually swatting at vehicles and throwing things around. And the climactic battle is suitably destructive. But, since I did not really care what happened to anyone, it ran out of steam before the end. It is still fairly good, however it was not creative enough to separate itself from other monster movies in any significant way.
Rampage is a decently enjoyable slice of entertainment with a light tone and a likable lead turn from Dwayne Johnson. He is perfect for this kind of role and does not look completely out of place standing next to oversized animals. Between this and the recent Tomb Raider reboot, videogames are having an okay go of it on the big screen so far in 2018. Rampage is not exactly classic filmmaking, but if all you are seeking is an opportunity to sit in a theater and turn your brain off for a couple of hours, you could certainly do worse.
3¼ out of 5
Dwayne Johnson as Davis Okoye
Naomie Harris as Dr. Kate Caldwell
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Harvey Russell
Malin Akerman as Claire Wyden
Jake Lacy as Brett Wyden
Joe Manganiello as Burke
Directed by Brad Peyton
Screenplay by Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel