Rudimentary Reviews: Rampage

Those who had long been waiting to watch a gorilla ride a crocodile on the big screen need not wait a moment longer. Rampage’s selling point was as a big, fun action flick, and it meets the low expectations it set for itself.

It would be easy to find a review of any of the past few Fast and Furious movies, copy and paste it here, and call it a day. The similarities in style are striking, right down to the starring actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. At this point, it may be fitting to give Johnson his own genre of movies, because he checks off all the boxes for what one might expect in this one. His character, Davis Okoye, is a one-dimensional, flawless hunk of meat who can handle any treacherous situation thrown at him. He’s tough as nails, has military expertise, and takes no nonsense from anyone, except for a select few individuals who can bring out his soft side. In the case of Rampage, this extends to an albino gorilla named George.

George is just an overall friendly ape. He and Davis go way back, and the two have learned sign language together so they can bicker and razz each other like a couple of college fraternity brothers. Tragically, the two’s bromance is put in jeopardy by the arrival of some strange meteors from an incident in outer space. The meteors carried a suspicious scientific formula that, when injected into animals, accelerates growing, bolsters healing, heightens aggression, and does a bunch of other vague, nondescript things. The explanation for this wasn’t the clearest, and it was evident the writers just wanted at least some excuse for four-story tall, bulletproof monsters to be making their way across the United States.

That’s right, the monsters are bulletproof, checking off the next box on the ‘How to make an intimidating threat that any militaristic forces will be useless against’ list. The United States finds themselves with a gorilla, wolf, and crocodile (all colossal and in possession of a few unique abilities thanks to the meteors) wreaking havoc on their own soil, and responds to this problem in one of the most accurate portrayals of U.S. policy in any recent movie: with vague and nondescript information given to those who deserve to know, incompetent leadership hampered by lack of trust, overt arrogance, and moronic responses to clear cut cases of corporate felony.

Which brings up the perpetrators behind the entire debacle, CEO siblings Claire and Brett Wyden, portrayed by  Malin Åkerman and Jake Lacy. Åkerman phones it in as Claire, whose character lacks any emotional or motivational depth. She is a wooden, evil woman, and there is nothing more to her. Brett at least grapples with a bit of conflict and displays more animation in his actions, but Lacy gives an awkward performance where he looks like he was hyped up on too much caffeine the entire time. The two make for an overall weak antagonistic force with little reason for them to be doing what they are.

The rest of the supporting cast provides passable performances, though nothing exemplary. Naomie Harris plays Dr. Kate Caldwell, an intelligent and quirky aid for Davis with a troubled past. Jeffrey Dean Morgan portrays agent Harvey Russell, using a mannerism rather akin to one he’s receiving a lot of attention for in a certain post-apocalyptic television show. A couple of other characters pop in and out in completely inconsequential roles.

The acting may be nothing special, but it doesn’t have to be for the type of movie Rampage is. The writing harkens to twelve year olds who would take their toy soldiers and invent giant, unbeatable threats for them to fight. The dialogue supports this notion, as most of the spoken lines are poor attempts at humor at best and cringeworthy exchanges at worst. It is truly horrendous. The plot trots along from set piece to set piece, showing some impressive CGI action scenes but providing little else of substance. It’s dumb fun, an enjoyable summer action flick that may have come out a few months too early.

The CGI for George is detailed and believable, and lends itself to the boisterous gorilla being one of the best parts of the movie. George is one of the few characters audiences will find themselves getting truly attached to, and the editing team did a great job recognizing this and putting in real work to give him fluid, realistic movements and facial expressions. The same can’t be said for the wolf and crocodile (the latter of whom is a very thinly-veiled Godzilla wannabe), who don’t receive much reason for audience empathy and look more out of place when they are on screen.

Rampage does not try very hard, but it succeeds at what it promised. It’s a shallow but enjoyable action-thriller that will likely be received differently by each individual viewer. The movie will attract a sizable amount of fans and critics. Go into it expecting to be entertained, but don’t hope for anything revolutionary.

Final Score: 5/10

Pros:

  • Action scenes
  • George

Cons:

  • Dialogue
  • Villains
  • Pointless supporting characters

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.