With the Tomb Raider reboot still fresh in filmgoers' minds, Hollywood continues to convert video games into films. The latest video game-turned-movie is Rampage, likely one of gaming’s simplest coin-ops. You and two players can simultaneously play as a gorilla, wolf or lizard (all giant versions of themselves) and you must destroy building after building while avoiding military forces. With it lacking complexity, it would seem unlikely it could (let alone should) be converted into a feature-length film. But Warners thought otherwise and with Dwayne Johnson as the blockbuster’s star, Rampage could make some money. But is it any good? You be the judge.

Rampage is directed by Brad Peyton (San Andreas) and co-written by Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal, and Adam Sztykiel. As mentioned, Johnson is the lead and plays Davis Okoye, a primatologist at a San Diego wildlife preserve. The preserve is home to a rare albino gorilla named George, and the pair shares a strong bond and friendship. One night George is exposed to a pathogen which came down from a research space station. The pathogen affects George in a myriad of ways – noticeably he grows and becomes more aggressive. Davis will do anything to help and protect George but everything spins out of control due to the threat George poses. In addition, pathogens have affected two other creatures, a wolf and a crocodile - and the trio of giant creatures reign terror everywhere they go. It’s up to Davis, with the help of genetic engineer Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and clandestine agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), to stop the creatures from destroying all of Chicago.

What keeps Rampage afloat is Johnson (of course). His charm is undeniable and it’s difficult to not root for him. His Davis is interesting – he’s a human who doesn’t trust other humans. His best (and only) friend is George and it’s clear that Davis is a father of sorts to George. Davis’s backstory is somewhat explored, but honestly it doesn’t matter because the only thing we want to see is Johnson doing awesome stuff. But if you haven’t noticed it’s difficult to do so when his antagonists are giants who make Davis look like a dwarf. But Johnson put forth his best effort and makes a strong case for most badass human.

Anyways, there is a thin plot involving Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman), a shrewd businesswoman whose company is responsible for the pathogens. Claire and her co-owner brother Brett (Jake Lacy) want to weaponize their creation in order to make billions. Claire and Brett are typical caricatures which are poorly written and exist only to further the story.

Since Rampage is an effects-heavy project, the giant creatures look convincing (with a budget of $120 million they better) and the trio goes around busting up EVERYTHING. Buildings fall over like Jenga pieces and it happens so often that the mass destruction looks to be taken directly from Man of Steel.

Rampage’s running time is 107 minutes but despite it being a fast-paced action film there are lulls.

In short, Rampage is stupid and mindless fare. The story is weak and there are plot holes everywhere. Performances, outside of Johnson and Morgan (who’s sporting some sort of The Walking Dead Negan-cowboy act), are forgettable, and much of the humor falls terribly short. On top of that, I don’t understand the attempts at being scientific, as if anyone cares why the animals are mutating and growing. Besides, with each explanation (usually uttered by a useless Harris), Rampage digs itself a deeper and deeper (plot)hole in terms of credibility and feasibility.

In spite of that Rampage is fun and a likely guilty pleasure. It’s the perfect popcorn film since there are no stakes and we know Dwayne Johnson always wins.

2.5 stars out of 5


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