After the smash success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle there can be no question that Dwayne Johnson is the superstar action hero of the moment, and while we wait for his upcoming heroics in saving the world’s tallest building in Skyscraper, we have his attempts to save Chicago from three rampaging genetically mutated monsters in Rampage. As I say in my video review above, it is King Kong on steroids — and then some.
Teaming again with director Brad Peyton for whom he made San Andreas — where he singlehandedly fought off the effects of a humongous earthquake natural disaster — Johnson is in his wheelhouse playing a former Special Forces officer and park ranger battling poachers. He saves a baby gorilla he names George who is orphaned while watching his mother sliced to death. He relocates the charismatic creature to San Diego’s Wildlife Park, where the Albino ape is a star attraction and real jokester. He and Johnson’s character Davis converse in sign language and are best pals.
But trouble looms with the evil brother/sister team of Claire (Malin Akerman) and Brett (Jake Lacey), who run Energyne Corporation and are involved in secret genetic experiments designed to turn animals into out-of-control, mutated creatures. For what end I am not sure, except it means instant riches for the pair. A secret mission on a space shuttle goes terribly awry when the mutated predators let loose and it crashes to earth right in the middle of the wildlife park, where George becomes infected with the secret ingredient that creates this aberration.
Trouble begins when George kills a grizzly bear, then runs amok through the park. Once he is tranquilized he is put on a cargo plane by Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the Southern-talking mystery federal agent who comes into the picture to take control. Davis is concerned by the treatment of George, and with the help of Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a former Energyne scientist who knows exactly what Claire and Brett have wrought, tries to take matters into his own hands and find the antidote to reverse the damage. George goes ballistic on the plane forcing Davis, Kate and Russell to parachute out before it crashes. Somehow George survives, only to resurface with two other giant monster mashups (including a 30-foot flying wolf) who wreak havoc on the city while Davis uses all his considerable talents to save the day — and the now massive and destructive George.
Of course this is all B-movie cartoon-style histrionics, but Johnson makes it entertaining using humorous bits to keep us amused and making us believe he is really the everyday superman he appears to be in so many films these days. Worth the price of admission is the way one of the baddies meets their end at the hands (and mouth) of George — it got applause at the screening I attended. Akerman and Lacy make one-dimensional villains you just have to laugh at, particularly Lacy who seems to be doing a perfect impression of Donald Trump Jr. at his wimpiest. Harris does what she can but belongs in better roles, while Morgan seems to be having a great time. Still this is Johnson’s and George’s show, aided by tremendous special effects and motion capture workl (kudos to Jason Liles as George). Peyton keeps it all in check and knows the main attraction are the monster bouts, which fill up the screen for the near entirety of the movie’s second act. What more can you ask for?
Producers are Beau Flynn, Hiram Garcia and John Rickard. Warner Bros unleashes the New Line Cinema Production on Friday.
Do you plan to see Rampage? Let us know what you think.