Directed by Brad Peyton
Written by Ryan Engle and Carlton Cuse & Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel
It’s perhaps just a little too early to start rolling out the true summer blockbusters, those typically start hitting in May (though with Marvel moving up the release of Infinity War into April, it looks like summer is coming early this year). So what exactly is a big, loud, crowd-pleasing movie released in April if not a blockbuster. It’s dumb, that’s what it is. Rampage is a dumb movie, let’s get that out of the way immediately. So let that doom it right from the start. But wait! There’s more! It may be dumb, and that will likely scare away a great many movie watchers, and that is fine, Rampage‘s stupidity certainly will not be for everyone, but it’s sort of an awesome, rollicking action/adventure of a video game wherein the whole objective is to destroy building with huge animals.
Rampage the video game has basically no story line, as highlighted above, but the movie adaptation has one (which barely qualifies)! Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) is a primatologist with a military background who looks after George, a unique albino gorilla. But when the science experiment of an evil corporation run by siblings (Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy), one cunning and conniving, the other daft and childlike, goes horribly wrong in space, their lethal product plummets to Earth, infecting George as well as a wolf and crocodile, causing them to grow to supernatural sizes. Employing the help of a genetics scientist (Naomie Harris), Davis must battle both the government and military, as well as a cowboy OGA (other government agency) agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), in order to save George and save the world.
I rarely like to work in objective statements, each person brings something different to the interpretation of art, but Rampage borders on not being art, and anyone that goes into it expecting to like it, but ultimately doesn’t, just doesn’t know how to have fun. (And there will be plenty of people I outright suggest avoid this farce all together). Alright, I already regret saying that, but man is this movie fun for the sheer audacity of its stupidity, and the hammy performances which go perfectly in sync with the zaniness of the film. Suspend all disbelief when entering the theater for this one, and sit back with your popcorn (which you’ll need) and just enjoy a laugh and watch some shit get blown up and torn down. This film has absolutely zero substance past that, and it honestly doesn’t need it and doesn’t try to fool itself into thinking it has substance.
The best hams included herein are Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jake Lacy. Others need not apply. Dean Morgan’s cowboy government officer is either drunk the entire time, or Dean Morgan is taking his cues from the most cartoonish western I’ve ever seen, complete with obnoxious belt buckle and white gun grip on prominent display. Lacy on the other hand manages to sculpt an extremely goofy character to play opposite the icily evil Malin Akerman which just goes perfectly with the idiocy of their sinister plan. The Rock, meanwhile, plays it fairly straight alongside Naomie Harris, but his is the role of action hero akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger (as he is quite obviously his generation’s iteration of the action hero). He is both charismatic and swole as hell, with a sense of humor to boot.
I really wish I could go on and on and on about this movie, as it truly deserves the wonderful detailed investigation that Mystery Science Theater would afford such a horrendous movie. There is plenty to nitpick throughout the film, but to me that was half the charm. It’s big. It’s dumb. It’s loud. It’s hilariously fun. I know so many others will summarily dismiss Rampage as a horribly stupid movie. I strongly disagree. It is instead a wonderfully stupid movie! I can’t recommend this to everyone. And if you thought it looked stupid based on the trailer, you’re likely not the type of person to enjoy stupid movies. But if you think you could have fun with something like this, I guarantee you’ll have fun with this hot mess, and I don’t care if that is a hot take. Rampage is undeniably stupid, but its beauty is just that, the film itself doesn’t deny it either, instead it embraces it fully, and you should too.