Monday, 16 April 2018
Rampage - review
"Know your role"
This was one of the verbal smackdowns that The Rock would lay down on his opponents during his days as the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. Nowadays, it is a motto that Dwayne Johnson lives by in his career as one of the most successful box office stars of the last decade.
Now not only an actor, but a producer as well, he has an incredible knack of picking projects that entertain audiences. Even if the audience themselves don't even think they need them i.e. Jumanji Welcome To The Jungle which has just become Sony's highest grossing film EVER in the US.
Sure, there is the odd misfire (Doom, Baywatch) but for the most part, Johnson is able to deliver big, dumb action movies better than anyone else in the business.
And speaking of big and dumb, welcome to Rampage which features three supersized creatures attacking downtown Chicago following a genetic experiment gone wrong.
If the plot sounds familiar, then you were probably born in the Eighties and played the video game of the same name.
In the game, players were in control of the monsters and the aim was to destroy all the buildings before you were killed by military forces.
In the film, the story follows Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Primatologist (just go with it) David Okoye who attempts to save his friend George (a giant Albino gorilla), who has mutated to incredible size, from the army who are determined to take him down alongside a giant wolf and crocodile.
The film wisely spends the first 15-20 minutes building the relationship between Davis and George before the proverbial rampaging begins and the special effects and motion performance from Jason Liles (under the tutelage of Terry Notary) help to convince of the friendship between the two and buy into Davis's mission to protect George from harm and save others in his way.
Johnson's character, along with Naomie Harris's biologist Kate Caldwell, are given backstories to flesh out their characters but to be perfectly honest they are unnecessary because deep, thoughtful characterisation is not why the audiences have bought a ticket.
Out of the rest of the supporting cast, Jeffery Dean Morgan's shadowy government agent who is the guy that "when science shits the bed, I'm the one they call to clean the sheets" is great value and totally gets the tone of what the movie is going for.
Unlike the sequence where Joe Manganiello's special forces team track the wolf through a forest that, if one did not know any better, was Brad Peyton filming an audition sequence for a new Predator movie.
Now Peyton and Johnson's last collaboration San Andreas came in for some criticism for not featuring a scene of The Rock stopping an earthquake by punching it in the face.
Thankfully, no such criticism here as Johnson tools up to fight the creatures mano et monstero... albeit somehow doing all this having taken a bullet to the stomach! Sadly no third act twist where Dwayne is forced to take the same genetic serum to grow to supersize to fight them head on, instead working side by side with George to take them down.
Standing next to the curiously large George, Johnson must have finally realised how Kevin Hart feels every time they appear on screen together.
There is no monkeying around in the final sequence which features more destruction than a Transformers movie and Man of Steel combined as it commits to dialling up the ridiculousness of the situation all the way up to 11 but works thanks to Johnson's character saying exactly what the audience is thinking the whole time.
It would be difficult to say that this film wants to be aping the success of previous video game adaptations because the bar is set quite low but it what it delivers is Prim(ate) Friday night entertainment.