Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Director: Brad Peyton
Running Time: 108 mins
Rampage is an American film about a primatologist and a geneticist who join forces to save Chicago and the world from three animals infected with a dangerous pathogen.
The Rock and a massive gorilla – what more did you expect? In all truth, Rampage is the epitome of a big studio blockbuster, with fantastic visual effects, a massively entertaining and chaotic finale, and an effortlessly charismatic lead in Dwayne Johnson, but not much else when it comes to holding your attention from beginning to end, largely due to a generic and occasionally even non-sensical story for the first two-thirds.
In all honesty, though, you don’t watch a film like this for engrossing storytelling, you watch it to see monsters fight each other in the middle of a major city while an epic action lead saves the world. In that, Rampage caters to all of your expectations in providing a fantastically dumb yet enjoyable watch, all coming to a head with an enormous finale filled to the brim with brilliant blockbuster entertainment.
I’ll get into the opening two acts in a second, but it’s the film’s finale that is undoubtedly the most memorable. The visual effects are fantastic from the start, and really start to show their worth in that final showdown, as we see three massive animals descend on Chicago and tear the city to pieces, with Dwayne Johnson trapped right in the middle, having to fight his way out against the most impossible and ridiculous adversaries.
Talking about Dwayne Johnson, Rampage features yet another one of his endlessly charismatic performances, as he dominates the film from beginning to end with his textbook likability and action chops, single-handedly giving the entire film an energy and enjoyability that would have likely been non-existent without Johnson in the lead role. Much like many of his other big blockbusters, he’s able to carry the entire film and add a whole extra level of fun even when there’s not all that much else to marvel at, which was great to see.
Despite that, however, the fact remains that there isn’t all that much to Rampage, and it suffers the fate of being a very generic blockbuster that offers little else than big action. The film is generally an enjoyable watch, but over the course of the first two acts, I felt regularly frustrated whenever there wasn’t any major action on screen, simply because the writing for the rest of the movie was so poor.
The story isn’t all that interesting, and follows a very predictable formula from beginning to end, occasionally punctuated by a random and rather poorly-written twist that makes the flow of the whole film really rather awkward to follow.
What’s more is that when the story’s not there, not even the humour can save the day. As I’ve said, Dwayne Johnson is very charismatic, but the rest of the actors don’t have the chance to help in the same way, and the awful comedy throughout, which almost always falls flat, means that the majority of the film is a far more underwhelming watch, without the entertainment value of watching Johnson in massive action sequences.
As a result, those first two acts are a bit of a drag, and there’s barely anything memorable about them apart from a couple of good action sequences. Fortunately, however, Johnson’s performance is enjoyable enough to engage you throughout, while the finale of the film is a massively entertaining action extravaganza, ultimately saving the film from being a waste of time, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1 overall.