Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is nothing if not dependable. The movies that he makes are rarely classics, but are never not entertaining and “Rampage” is another example of the big man’s charisma and screen presence helping to elevate what may have been just another B-movie throwback into something more. “Rampage” is based on an 80’s arcade game of the same name where the aim of the game was to play one of three monsters and level as much of a city as possible in a given amount of time, which is kind of what this film is aiming for. However, whether by accident or by design, the film has a surprising amount of heart especially in the interactions between Johnson and his main co-star, a CGI gorilla named George.
The story starts with an accident aboard a space station which inadvertently causes the work being done there to land on earth, infecting George and two other animals that go on a, well, rampage. The Rock stars as Davis Okoye, a primatologist who rescued George from poachers when he was a young orphan. George is a rare albino silverback gorilla who is usually fairly placid and highly intelligent, but following his infection he becomes hyper aggressive and escapes his enclosure. At the same time, a commando unit is hunting down a mutated wolf, and we also see a mysterious third creature intermittently during the movie but the creature isn’t revealed in full until near the end of the movie during the spectacular, Chicago set, climax.
The Rock and director Brad Peyton have a very good working relationship and their teaming has already produced two other very entertaining movies in the form of “Journey 2” and “San Andreas”, and for me “Rampage” is probably the best of the three so far. The film is very fast paced, and has some very good one-liners which usually involve The Rock’s character pointing out the more ridiculous things that are happening along the way. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Malin Akerman show up in supporting roles and have a great time hamming it up. They’re very aware that this is a kind of tongue in cheek action adventure and while Dean Morgan busts out a southern drawl for his part of Agent Harvey Russell of “Other Government Agency”, Akerman is an out and out irredeemable villain and she seems to be having a ball in the role. Naomie Harris takes a break from being Miss Moneypenny in the last two Bond films to act as a companion to Davis, as she plays a genetic engineer who may or may not have some knowledge of the experiments that are causing the transformations among the three animals that are descending on the city of Chicago.
The special effects for primates have improved so much in light of the “Planet of the Apes” reboot films, and what we see on display here is as good as the effects in those films, and the creativity on show for the designs of the other two creatures is spectacular. “Rampage” is as good of a monster movie as you’ll see and was far more entertaining as the “Godzilla” remake from a few years ago. The action is easy to follow; the film doesn’t outstay its welcome, and has some surprisingly tense moments. All in all, it’s another home run from Dwayne Johnson and co, and I’d actually like to see a return to the world of this film at some stage in the future.
These are the talented words of our man Kevin Dillon. #kevinwritestuff
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