Review: Rampage

7 10

PLOT: An ex-Special Forces ranger-turned-primatologist (Dwayne Johnson) tries to save his best friend, a rare albino gorilla named George, after a rogue experiment turns him into a giant, rampaging beast. But George isn’t the only one…

REVIEW: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become a cottage industry of sorts. It’s kind of refreshing watching one of his big star vehicles, because in this age, where IP is king, Johnson is a throwback to another kind of star, where no franchise is bigger than the man himself. For the most part, his audience follows him, even if he’s not immune to the occasional flop (BAYWATCH - although the foreign gross turned it into a moneymaker).

RAMPAGE has The Rock’s formula down to a science. His audience demands he always be the most capable guy on screen, and here he’s not only a genius primatologist, but also - natch - a former Special Ops guy, explaining his ease with firepower and the fact that he can pilot a helicopter, even after, at one point, the tail is ripped off. For mere mortals this may be a problem. For The Rock, even a bullet wound is just something to shrug off.

However, his audience doesn’t just want him to be badass. They also like his soft side, hence here he’s a lonely guy who prefers the company of animals, and to be honest, he seems to care a lot less about the carnage being caused by the giant rampaging gorilla, flying wolf and alligator than saving his gorilla bro. So, before the action starts, we get some sweet bro-hangs with Johnson and George, with fist-bumps, and shenanigans. And you know what? It works.

Granted, RAMPAGE, which is based on a video game, will never win critical kudos, but with The Rock, you know you’re getting a fun thrill-ride, delivered with a wink and a smile to the audience. Director Brad Peyton also directed his hits, JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and SAN ANDREAS. He knows how to use his star, and RAMPAGE, while silly, is fun. It’s basically a mash-up of KING KONG and GODZILLA, with a little PREDATOR thrown-in, scaled down to a PG-13. It’s wall-to-wall action, with the “genetic auditing” science only explained in the most cursory way. But who cares? Even the corny, tacked-on exposition isn’t enough to run the thrill of watching The Rock run around a ruined Chicago with a machine gun fighting a giant alligator. It is what it is.

It helps that the rest of the cast seems to be on the same page as The Rock. Naomi Harris plays the defacto love interest, a former employee of our big bads (Malin Akerman & Jake Lacy as scenery-chewing siblings), who’s a scientist and everything, but also digs our hero’s bulging biceps. Speaking of biceps, Joe Manganiello is on-board as a mercenary hunting the wolf, while Jeffrey Dean Morgan has an absolute blast as the cowboy government op who starts off as The Rock’s enemy, but soon becomes so psyched to be his bro. He has fun chewing the scenery, although Akerman seems to be having an even better time in a rare baddie part.

Like in SAN ANDREAS, the CGI is a mixed bag. George looks amazing, but the other two beasts are a bit cartoonish, not that it really matters much. One praiseworthy element is how quick Peyton keeps things going, with the whole thing running about an hour and forty minutes before credits - which is perfect for a film like this. It’s just good popcorn-munching fun, and you gotta hand it to The Rock. He knows his brand.

Source: JoBlo.com



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