Written by Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan Condal, and Adam Sztykiel and directed by Brad Peyton, “Rampage!” is an adaption of the arcade video game of the same name in which three giant monsters wreck a bunch of buildings. This movie is a giant monster B-movie with a budget that is as stupid as it’s concept. By now you’re probably sure whether or not this type of movie will work for you. While I enjoyed some of the action in the later half of the movie, most of it is mired by incredibly cringe-worthy dialogue and gigantic leaps in logic when it comes to the main characters’ problem solving abilities. Well, let’s dive in shall we?
The only relationship this story is concerned with is that of primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson) and George, a large albino Gorilla at the Santa Monica Zoo. So, it’s good that this relationship actually works in the movie because almost everything else is either acted far too cartoonishly, or with a transformers level of ignorance. However, the third act is a good time- even if there is absolutely no regard for human life whatsoever. So the (very) basic premise is that an evil company, whose generic name you’ll never remember anyways, was funding science experiments on a space station that blew up due to the volatility of said experiments (their purpose? who knows) which resulted in three vials cascading down to North America and landing in Wyoming, Florida, and Southern California. These vials mutated the animals that interacted with them first and therefore we have three giant mutated animals running around causing all sorts of havoc. As you can imagine, one of those animals happens to be George the albino gorilla. There’s also a wolf, and an alligator. Eventually the Cartoonishly evil villains in Chicago, Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy as the Wyden siblings, decide to activate a low frequency beacon to draw the beasts to downtown Chicago so the military can kill them and they can salvage some of the mutated DNA for future evil-doings. Davis Okoye travels with the unnamed government agency that took George for study, he also brings along Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a genetic editing scientist that used to work for the evil company. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by Joe Manganiello as a gruff military badass who’s only there to be eaten by a giant wolf. What a waste.
I have to admit, Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems to have been having a great time portraying Harvey Russell, the agent leading the unnamed government agency. His southern drawl is comically amusing throughout his time onscreen and he seems to be the most self aware character in acknowledging this very, very, dumb movie he’s in. However, dumb can be fun, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll get it in “Rampage!” One such example that caught me off guard completely was when the chaos is unfolding in downtown Chicago (a city I’ve lived in) and the military is picking up movement in the Chicago river as the leading personnel seriously says, “That’s odd, we don’t have any submarines in the area..” I mean, really? You don’t say? No submarines in Lake Michigan huh? Well isn’t that just the oddest thi- OH MY GAWD IT’S A GIANT CROCODILE!
If the film wanted to add even an iota of depth to the story they could have chosen to actually follow the source material’s only nugget of storytelling by having the origins of the three monsters be humans that are mutated into the destructive threats instead of animals. That might be asking too much of this movie though. “Rampage!” can be fun at times, but it’s also incredibly dumb, the script is one of the worst I’ve seen in years. There’s lots of brazen assumptions, low brow humor, and aggressively stupid character decisions that go hand-in-hand with their cardboard thin characterization. However, if you’re willing to completely shut your brain off for a big dumb monster movie, this might work for you.
Final Score: 1 Kong, 1 Zilla, & 1 Werewolf