Rampage combines intense action sequences, colorful/eye-popping special effects, and an engaging storyline making it the best video game adaptation to date.
While some will reference either the Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, or Tomb Raider films, none of these possess the type of balance Rampage has. Previous attempts at bringing these video games to life seem always to feel a need to build up a back story. No one is seeking any of these movies out (Rampage included) because they want to be dazzled by dialogue. If anyone is paying to see Rampage, they are wanting to see Rock face off against some monsters who are leveling a city.
The story centers around primatologist by the name of Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) and his rescued gorilla named George. Overnight three metallic boxes crash down to earth from an escape pod jettisoned from a space station. In each box is a toxin which transforms these animals into giant mutant creatures with horrible attitudes. George goes to investigate one of the boxes which happen to all in his enclosure and is immediately exposed. Almost at the same moment in another part of the United States, a wolf and an alligator are exposed at the same time (what are the odds?). Shortly after this occurs, all hell breaks loose as the animals begin leveling everything in their path as they make their trek towards Chicago. Okoye ends up teaming with a geneticist (played by Naomi Harris) as they race to quell the tidal wave of violence and hopefully save George. Agent Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) lends a hand to our unlikely heroes who face a daunting task.
Writers Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel succeed in creating a narrative which balances the character development while creating enough likeability so audiences will care about them. One of the most significant issues with the recent reboot of Tomb Raider is too much time was spent on developing Laura’s origin story. Rampage tells us just enough about Okoye to understand why he works with primates at the San Diego Zoo. Johnson’s character was part of a special ops unit which sought out poachers around the world and eliminated them. His character prefers the company of animals over humans because Okoye has seen the horror humans can inflict. It was a great touch creating the bond between The Rock’s character and George in the storyline. Their friendship is what fuels his passion for saving him.
Director Brad Peyton is once again at the helm of a Dwayne Johnson action flick (he also directed San Andreas), and the results are undoubtedly stellar. The director understands what the audience is craving when they purchase a ticket for his latest release. For roughly 2/3 of the film, Peyton is the conductor of this big-budget symphony of destruction. What’s most surprising about Rampage is the pacing of the film doesn’t feel rushed. Audiences are given just enough time to develop a bond with the characters before George begins leveling entire city blocks. The performances were indeed effective. No one in the cast overshadowed what was unfolding during the numerous action sequences. Johnson understands that he’s one of the most popular actors working today, but these creatures are the star of the film.
Rampage strikes the right tone and never seeks to do anything more than thrill theatergoers. Children will be in awe of how menacing the creatures look then quickly be frightened by the mayhem they inflict on civilians. At times the dialogue is a little campy but it certainly doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the film. While Rampage won’t be award-winning, it will entertain millions of fans around the globe who are craving an escape from reality.