A giant gorilla, a super-sized armoured alligator, a flying mega wolf and Dwayne Johnson appear in a film. It’s the beginning of a great joke and therein lies the problem with Rampage. Stuck in attempting to justify the joke’s existence, it never realises how fun this story could be.
Johnson’s latest Hollywood number comes from the 1986 videogame of the same name, in which players take control of gigantic monsters trying to survive against onslaughts of military forces. In some ways, director Brad Peyton’s merciless, bombastic, blockbuster style takes full advantage of the concept. The deaths are outrageous, the animals’ design is strong, and the crash, bang, wallop of buildings and monsters coming together entertains. There’s no nuance to Peyton’s style, and it has seen no evolution from his work with Johnson on the equally mad and soulless San Andreas. It does the job. Peyton can deliver entertaining enough spectacle for the masses, but there’s no soul or wit in the visuals. It’s just a shame that a more inventive soul was not behind the wheel.
Thankfully Peyton is blessed with man of the moment, Johnson. He is endlessly charming, affable, and is the star this film requires. His tremendous presence saves him from being dwarfed by the supersized CGI creatures. There’s enjoyable support from Jeffrey Dean Morgan as he chews through scenery, dropping ‘Southern witticisms’ with every third breathe. They can, however, only do so much. When this film enjoys its concept, it sparkles. It’s odd though that with such a bananas idea, Rampage refuses to embrace its DNA.
Why does the film limit its humour, action and potential? Rampage is fun enough thanks to some last minute spectacle and Johnson, but not everything need be so serious. It could have been so much more.
CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Ackerman
DIRECTOR: Brad Peyton
WRITERS: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal, Adam Sztykiel
SYNOPSIS: Primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson) shares an unshakable bond with George, the gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry, and Okoye must find an antidote for his friend.