Dwayne Johnson take another crack at the video game movie genre. He’s swapping BFGs for rampaging monsters in the cinematic adaption of Rampage – Midway’s classic 1986 arcade game.
Johnson plays Davis Okoye, a Primatologist whose best friend is George, an intelligent albino gorilla. Their peaceful life gets abruptly shattered when debris from a space station crashes down in the animal sanctuary George resides in and affects him with toxin that begins to make the gorilla bigger, stronger and a furious rampaging monster. When George escapes, he teams up with other genetically enhanced creatures and end up on a collision course towards Chicago. Okoye assisted by a former scientist (Naomi Harris) and a grizzled government agent (Jefferey Dean Morgan), must race to get to the city and try, not only to to stop the monsters reducing Chicago to rubble, but to try and save George.
Let’s get the positive aspects out of the way, I found Rampage ridiculously entertaining. Visually, it accomplishes what it wants to do – deliver a big blockbuster smash fest of monstrous proportions and at a brisk 100 minutes, doesn’t outstay its welcome. There are some thrilling set pieces, my personal favourite being a group of marines trying to tackle the genetically enhanced wolf. Johnson continues to be one the most charismatic action leads and his relationship with George the gorilla is touching enough for you to care about their friendship. Yes, George might be a CGI creation but at he has personally that allows you to connect in the opening stages of the film.
There are some things to bare in mind. For a video game movie, it very loosely follows the plot of the original arcade machine and switches everything else around. In the game, our trio of big monsters were former humans – here, they’re just animals with genetic editing and instead of them being protagonists, all except George, are monster villains. To the die hard gaming fan, flipping who our heroes and villains are can seem a bit jarring. One could argue that for a game released in 1986, not many people are going to argue about the core changes and I wasn’t really aware of the original premise until after seeing the film.
If people are going to argue with the film, it will likely be with the tone of the film. Rampage seems to have several different films going throughout. A film about saving the world from dangerous creatures. A film about the bond between a human and a gorilla. Then we have the sheer bizarre involvement of our film’s human villains played by Malin Ackerman and Jake Lacy who act and look like they belong in a camp superhero movie. It was a funny inclusion to proceedings and I laughed at this because this was at times horribly out of place. I can see this being an off-putting problem. Especially when there’s serious character investment with our protagonists trying to save a city from being reduced to rubble.
If you’re looking for moments of movie monster action insanity, Rampage ticks most boxes. It does what it sets out to do deliver big action spectacles. laugh out loud moments (with and sometimes at the film) and the usual smoldering charisma from Johnson. You can’t ask for anything more than that with this video game movie. Considering the history of video game movies, this is at least one stomp in the right direction.
Rampage is at UK cinemas from Thursday 12th of April 2018.