Rampage is not as bad as you think it is going to be. The movie is hands down a video game adventure, that knows it’s a gimmicky trope. It has no boundaries in its inception, nor execution. Everything goes, including starting the movie in an illegal testing facility in space. Yup – in space. I’ll try to hold off on the spoilers because I actually genuinely want people to see this flick.
After our outer space adventure that results in weaponized gases hurling to Earth, we are met by a misfit group of zoologists checking in on the gorilla enclosure at the San Diego Zoo. With a very obnoxious white boy talking about how the walk, “takes him right back to his days in Uganda.” The hilarious thing is, we know the lines were written to exaggerate the white savior braggadocio – but sadly it was not too far off from reality. Our hero, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – oh…should I not say “The Rock” anymore? Well, he’s still built that way. (Take a glance at the cover photo one mo’ time.)
Dwayne Johnson playing Davis Okoye (cough Dora Milaje name cough) calls the white panderer out on his bullshit, which immediately sets you up for the campy feel of this flick. Right away, you know this movie is going to have completely unrealistic relationships and action movie nonsense for sure – outside of the fact that there is a monstrous, skyscraper-sized gorilla, alligator, and wolf running through the film.
The story follows the rare albino gorilla “George” in the San Diego zoo, who was saved from poachers by the seal, or marine, or army or w/e operative, Davis Okoye. The genetic editing gas “Rampage” is thrust into the atmosphere after catastrophic results on the space station testing lab. Three canisters plummet to Earth, landing in the woods in the Midwest, the river in South America, and the San Diego Zoo. This lethal weapon of mass destruction designed with Crispr technology edits the genetic code of the animal, blending it with the traits of several other animals, and instills them with uncontrollable aggression. The very witty and sarcastic-yet-playful Gorilla George turns into a killing machine!
The movie just has fun with it, and the actors, too. At no moment do I think the movie is taking itself seriously. From the – ‘wait how did he get there so fast?’ moments, to the cringe and chuckle-worthy one-liners, you know this movie came to play. It’s like the producers and directors all said, wouldn’t it be hilarious if ‘Rampage’ was a movie?! – and The Rock appeared like, “I’ll do it!”
Dwayne Johnson is the lovable Primatologist, that only gets along with animals (yea right!). They make a joke about him not being good with people, and I’m like, The Rock is the most charismatic man on the planet! I feel like they knew how absurd it was, but who else could have done this movie? No one.
Naomie Harris (Paula, Moonlight) was good in the film, as Dr. Kate Caldwell – with a great American accent of course. It was interesting, casting a woman of color in this role, yay for Black women. They could have cast another white actor and they didn’t – yay diversity… but the character itself wasn’t given much. I didn’t enjoy the character treatment, her being a woman was thrown around in a strange way, being cut off a lot and being the fired scientist who the evil characters try to blame everything on.
She had her moments to clap back sarcastically at men, which I appreciated, but I wished she had more presence as a character. Plus, certain sexual jokes towards the end were unwarranted, but in all fairness, they were made by a gorilla. The chemistry between the two was a bit forced at times, but you could tell they were all having fun. I didn’t feel like the two stars were headed towards romance, but probably good co-workers and friends.
There are unexpected players in the film that truly make you smile. We have cartoonish villains that I believe are a mix of Pinky and the Brain and members of the Legion of Doom. The head honcho Claire Wyden played by Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre, Watchmen). A cutthroat villain willing to risk it all for the weaponized drug they developed, a mastermind of evil – with a terrible hairstyle.
Her brother the ill-fit businessman, who obviously does this work for the money and didn’t have to do anything to get where he is because well, they are related and you know white people stuff. I found it hilarious that at every turn he was eating something. They really played up the bumbling aspect of his character which made their duo so outlandish. My plus one for the night pointed out, they were totally giving Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr vibes – which is spot on.
You can tell that every actor that read this script laughed out loud and was like “Hell yes, this should be fun!” And it shows.
This is totally apparent in the introduction of Harvey Russell played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan, Walking Dead). He is literally Negan, FBI agent, but also FBI Cowboy western loving FBI Negan. His hip cocked in the Negan hip cock, and every upward and downward inflection in his voice that we love to hate. Walking around with a pearl-handled pistol in his waistband popping out of his pants at all times instead of Lucille. It was a good ‘ol time.
Then we have Joe Manganiello (Alcide, True Blood) making an appearance as “Burke.” Now I invited a Dwayne Johnson expert with me to see the film, cuz that’s her bae – but this man right here, yes that is my bae, so I was pleasantly surprised. We had some great WB moments when trying to suss out who Jeffery Dean Morgan’s character worked for, Naomie guessed “Justice League” eeehehehehe… They can do that because they are WB. We even got little easter eggs with the arcade game in the background of the villain moguls swanky office.
All in all, you get attached to George and Dwayne’s relationship, you get to see unbelievable monsters rip a city to shreds and each other while wondering why Jeffery Dean Morgan’s character is everywhere all the time and simultaneously out of his jurisdiction…