Rampage – film review

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Rampage

dir. Brad Peyton

USA 2018

 

Hollywood has already brought us a film about emojis inside a smartphone, production based on the game of battleships and a series of blockbusters inspired by transforming toy robots. It is not surprising then that the producers decided to adopt Rampage for the big screen – arcade game from the 1980s, which involved demolishing buildings and eating people. There is only one person in Los Angeles who could have guaranteed a substantial financial return from this risky project. It is no coincidence that his head shines like a polished gold bar.

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Dwayne Johnson (once WWE’s icon and legend „The Rock” ) is Hollywood’s true salvation. His name on the movie poster is a guarantee of profits, regardless of the level of production. A wacky comedy with Kevin Hart, a remake of a well-known TV series, an adventure for the whole family and a catastrophic movie – „The Rock” equals cash. Dwayne makes a great PR, promotes the film to the right and left, to the point where his snow-white, shoulder-length wide smile almost pops out of the fridge. The producers must love it. You cannot deny him charisma or talent and although his acting skills are somehow limited, his comedic instinct is in my opinion above average. Brad Peyton loved him especially since the successful Journey 2, and it is probably in this movie that Johnson consolidated his position he has in cinema today. No wonder two men reunited to work together in San Andreas and now in Rampage, which is the resultant of both productions.

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„The Rock” plays Davis Okoye, a former special services agent, who used to combat poachers, now is a gorilla primatologist at the San Diego zoo. This bulky guy with khaki pants and a bit too tight t-shirt focuses only on one: working with monkeys. His favourite is the silverback gorilla named George, with whom he has a unique bond. Davis has a rather dark past, of which we will learn a little, but not too much. So his behaviour is a little mysterious, especially when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex, which he nonchalantly ignores. There is no time for thinking about the hero’s psychology because things soon get complicated.

After an unsuccessful scientific experiment in a space station orbiting over our planet, fragments of toxic samples that modify DNA land on Earth. One canister goes to the swamps, infecting the crocodile, the second lands in the mountains among the pack of wolves, the third in the protagonst’s zoo. Poor George is exposed to toxins and the gorilla that was friendly so far now begins to become more and more aggressive. He also grows at a surprising pace. Information about this leaks to the media and it turns out that there is someone who knows what happened. Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) is a genetic engineer who once worked on such a project for Energyne. This evil and greedy corporation has been illegally trying to develop a formula for gene manipulation for years at any cost. Kate and Davis are trying to help the gorilla, but there are federal services appearing on the scene that want to control the situation. „When science shits the bed, I’m the one they call to change the sheets” says agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) with a frenzied smile. Even his actions will be thwarted by Energyne’s owners, who have a rather suicidal plan to recover lost samples.

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Talking about logic and probability in a production based on a simplistic arcade game, is a bit like digging a lying one. But writers of Rampage just keep asking for it, creating a rather grotesque vision of the world. We learn quite early that George and Ralph grow fast and need food, but we hardly see it as if they were eating something. In the game at least it was clear – a huge gorilla kidnapped people from buildings to grab a bite. Here we do not experience this – except for one crucial scene. The corporation for some reason conducts experiments in space because they are banned on Earth. Who cares it is expensive and dangerous, because they have a lot of money and they can afford it! And we get a shot in weightlessness, in 3D, with flying mutant rat! Luring angry creatures to the centre of a huge city is probably the stupidest idea that villains have ever came up with in the history of cinema. Considering that they have no plan how to tame these animals. And there is also an arcade machine with the game Rampage at company’s office. A game, where the mutant wolf, gorilla and crocodile destroy the city, and this is what its owners called their experiment. All that happened before the remains of the space station burned in the atmosphere! I understand that this is blinking to the viewer, but the meta level here is quite overproduced.

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So all the hard work lays in the muscular hands of Dwayne and his partner George, played in motion capture technology by Jason Liles. The bond and humour between these two characters works quite well, but unfortunately it must be enough for the beginning and the end of the movie. When gorilla with his „friends” is moving towards the city, leaving the path of destruction behind, we must rely on the unconvincing partnership with Naomie Harris. Something clearly doesn’t work there. Fortunately, there is also Morgan, who does what Negan did best in The Walking Dead for last few seasons – act with great nonchalance and with a psychopath’s smile, speaking his lines in deep Texan accent. He may be little over the top, but he’s a joy to watch.

If we completely turn off our brains and go to the movies, we’ll find a spectacular film, on which the special effects creators spent more time (but maybe not enough) than the whole team on the set put together – including especially screenwriters. If that’s what you’re after – you hit the jackpot. Watching Rampage as a civilian is a lot of fun, pleasing to the eye, but completely forgettable after the end credits. Unfortunately, the screening in the ungrateful role of the reviewer ends with the need to write about Dwayne Johnson’s trousers. Because there really is not much more.

Verdict: 5/10 (because Dwayne doesn’t deserve any lower score)

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