Crashing, smashing and destroying your hearing in your local multiplex at a rate of knots is Rampage the latest in Hollywood’s undeterred attempts to fashion something worthwhile out of gaming nostalgia and culture. The ever likeable, charismatic and cut out and keep template for action heroes Dwayne Johnson is Davis Okoye a primatology expert and ex-military task force operative (what are the chances eh?) who befriended and adopted George, an albino gorilla. The two have a strong bond and understanding that often leads to sign language gags and CGI gorilla chuckles.
Unbeknownst to the pair high above them in space (why not) a multi-million-dollar corporation is conducting experiments on animals using a mysterious pathogen that increases a subjects’ growth and aggression exponentially. When the inevitable destructive incident incident occurs, canisters of the pathogen fall to earth and George becomes infected but would you it believe he’s not the only animal to be affected.
Rampage is based on the arcade game in which giant animals are charged with destroying buildings and wrecking cities. That is pretty much the entire purpose of the game, bash the buttons and destruction will occur, so to stretch this premise into a fully-fledged film may seem unnecessary and if you were cynical a cash grab. To be honest that wouldn’t be an unfair assessment!
Before heading into Rampage I wanted to have fun, I wanted big spectacle and I wanted dumb action. It was certainly big and bombastic, there was fun to be had in places but ultimately it is one of the dumbest films I have watched in recent times. All logic and reason has been thrown out the window, the script is clichéd, predictable and at times just terrible.
Dwayne Johnson does his best to steady the ship, he is likeable, very watchable and has a charm that seeps out of the screen but this is simply not enough to balance out the nonsense that the film contains. The sinister corporation heads are no more than pantomime villains doing inexplicable things for inexplicable reasons like calling three enraged beasts into a huge city via a recently installed transmitter (how lucky is that) in order to have them destroyed and get some of their DNA for future experimentation. These suits are prepared to risk the destruction of an entire city and countless loss of life to further their cause and risk the destruction of their own building in the process. It really is that daft of an idea.
Complete madness and the hope that no audience member notices seems to have been the Rampage mantra and it would be a lie if I didn’t declare that there were points I found myself swept away in the chaos at times. However, the CGI is poor in important moments with a constant flux in the size and scale of our destructive beasties, the destruction immeasurable and none of the watching military forces seem aware that bullets will not get the job done no matter how big the gun! These things matter as daft as that may sound but with greater care given to these problems a better film could have been made.
I fully appreciate that some films are just meant to be fun, an opportunity to switch off from the stresses of life and lose yourself in a world of big, dumb nonsense and popcorn. As a fan of the Fast and the Furious franchise I know this to be true, but even those pieces of bombastic cinema nonsense make sense (most of the time).
Rampage is a film based on a game that requires the player to wreck and ruin without care or afterthought. The film does not care or give afterthought to the mayhem it creates, so perhaps it could be argued then that they’ve remained truer to the test than I’ve given them credit for after all! Buy a bucket of popcorn and your bodyweight in fizzy drinks, leave your brain at the door and embrace the chaos you may have a decent time, sadly I just couldn’t play along.