New Line Cinema
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Written by: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal & Adam Sztykiel
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan & Joe Manganiello
SO… before I begin this review, let me preface for all who are unaware: This movie is based on a video game. I’ve seen critics picking it apart like they tried to do with ‘Tomb Raider‘ last month (yes, also based on a video game) and it needs to stop. People overthinking it or over-analyzing these films need to stop and just enjoy the ride. And what a ride it is! Dwayne Johnson stars as primatologist Davis Okoye who works with primates at the San Diego Zoo. Years ago, while on an anti-poaching trip to Africa, he rescued an albino silverback gorilla named George with whom he has developed a bond. When a genetic experiment in space goes wrong and re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, George is affected by one of the canisters containing gas that causes his cells to mutate. He begins to grow abnormally large and exhibit aggressive behavior. Desperate to cover their tracks AND reclaim their genetic material, Claire & Brett Wyden (the sibling team who head the company responsible for the experimentation gone awry) send out a radio signal to call the creatures who are affected back to their headquarters. Mass destruction follows as George, a mutated wolf (that the media have dubbed “Ralph”) along with an altered & alarmingly large alligator creature begin converging on Chicago. Luckily, Davis along with former researcher Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and Agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) have a plan to seize the antidote from the Caldwell’s and put an end to the creatures’… rampage… before the military wipes out the city to stop them.
‘Rampage‘ is equal parts fun and outright action. As I mentioned in the beginning, it IS based on a video game where YOU play as one of the 3 monsters and try to destroy each city. What is one to expect? Dwayne Johnson is his usual self and, regardless of the script or the film, always is a great lead for a film. Naomie Harris is very relatable and solid as the former researcher out to help take down the company she blames for causing the death of her brother. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is… Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Always. He plays his role with charm and enthusiasm which makes for all of his scenes to be a sheer delight. Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy are outright ridiculous in the best way possible as the maniacal corporate and nearly over-the-top villains out to make money at any cost. While this film won’t be winning any Oscars, it certainly is an enjoyable kick-off to “movie season” and might even steal the #1 spot at the box office from ‘A Quiet Place‘ for it’s debut weekend. Grab your popcorn and soda, hunker down in your chairs and just turn off your brain for a very fast 1 hr and 47 minutes. I would give ‘Rampage’ a 6.5 overall and recommend it be seen in IMAX if you can for maximum destructive enjoyment!