Turns out Dwayne Johnson Can’t Save Everything. "Rampage" The Most Boring Monster Film.
Jessica Hathaway • May 05 2018
“Based” on an arcade game from the 1980s that was later ported over to home video game systems, Rampage stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a primatologist at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary who finds himself trying to save the world when his best buddy, an ape named George, gets infected by a fast-moving gene modification that turns him into an enormous, rage-filled, deadly killing machine.
It’s both a blindingly predictable pastiche of an action movie — absolutely nothing happens here that you haven’t seen in a movie before, with the possible exception of some crass sign-language humor from a giant gorilla — and weirdly charming. To the extent Rampage succeeds, it does so specifically because it knows it doesn’t have a single original thought in its head, and it’s not even going to try to convince you otherwise. It’s a movie about smashing things, and things getting smashed, and also it has The Rock.
Rampage probably needed more of a built-in joke to put Johnson to good use, some device or wink that gestured toward the obviousness of his casting. That never arrives, and so we get a Johnson performance that’s about as bored as we are watching the movie.
Johnson plays Davis Okoye, a former special ops Army guy turned primatologist who’s tasked with saving the world—or at least Chicago—when a mysterious substance from a top-secret space-station laboratory crashes to Earth and makes oversized monsters out of a Wyoming wolf, a Florida gator, and a beloved albino gorilla named George, who is also Davis's best friend. Rampage starts off as a kind of workplace comedy, with Davis training two young scientists (Breanne Hill and Jack Quaid) who seemed destined to hook up by the end of the movie, and palling around with a dorky sidekick played by P.J. Byrne. We figure that when the ape gets big, all that stuff will travel along on the adventure.
But, nah. Once the monster mash gets going, Rampage forgets about all that and becomes a mostly serious action story, assiduously avoiding a lot of its camp potential. The film hurries toward a city-destroying climax that arrives about one set piece too early, before pausing to gravely take in the destruction wrought and lives lost. I in no way wanted the movie to be longer, but it probably should have been—maybe with another action sequence or something the movie could have stumbled upon some idea of itself.