Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Joe Lacy, Joe Manganiello
Honest confession – I was pretty excited about Rampage. Firstly, it’s got Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, a man who doesn’t need a cape or uniform to be a superhero. His bicep alone can save the world. Then you’ve got genetically modified monsters – starting with a silverback gorilla who knows sign language and can make dirty jokes, a wolf that flies and an oversized crocodile that likes to smash buildings. This looked like fun. But director Brad Peyton, assisted by no less than four screenplay writers, has created a bland and noisy movie that is utterly lacking in personality.
Rampage is loosely based on a video game in which players get to be monsters who are destroying the world. You were rooting for monsters and the goal was destruction. But Peyton puts humans at center-stage and now the goal is to save the world – or at least Chicago where the three monsters are running amok.
Truth be told, these monsters have more sparkle than the humans. Johnson plays a primatologist, Davis Okoye, who befriends an albino gorilla named George. Their bromance gives the film a smidgen of emotion. George comes with backstory and comic timing – he is in fact, the most compelling character onscreen.
Naomie Harris plays the scientist whose work enables an evil corporation to put these dastardly events into motion. Clearly she decided to mix it up because we saw her in Moonlight delivering an Oscar nominated performance. I never get tired of quoting this – Manisha Koirala used to refer to paycheck films like this as home productions – a film that enables you to buy a home.
Rampage veers between exhausting action sequences and eye-glazing exposition. Characters says lines like – get me the neuromuscular synapse activity. I wanted to interrupt with – get me a good time. But the writing is so lame that even Johnson’s Herculean charisma can’t make this compelling.