Over the course of his film career Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has battled mummies, an earthquake, race car drivers, the ocean, the sword and sandal set, a video game come to life, and now in his latest film “Rampage”, a giant mutated wolf and crocodile. Of course Johnson alone is imposing enough in size, so you can definitely imagine him going against said creatures. The sci-fi/monster film is loosely based on the video game series of the same name, so any film based on a video game is bound to be defined as a “popcorn” flick. In this effort Johnson stars as primatologist Davis Okoye who is the leader of an anti-poaching unit. Okoye saved a white albino gorilla he named George years ago from poachers, and the two developed a way to communicate via sign language. George is now grown and living in an area of the San Diego Zoo, and is cared for by Okoye.
Meanwhile up in space, a research space station owned by the Energyne company, is destroyed by a mutated laboratory rat (never a good sign), leaving the villains of the story, Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) and her brother Brett (Jake Lacy) wondering if they will be able to retrieve the pathogen that caused the extreme growth in the rat. Never fear, as with any good monster movie, canisters containing the pathogen land in the Everglades, a Wyoming forest, and in the San Diego Zoo. George discovers the mysterious object that has conveniently landed near him, and no sooner can you say “King Kong”, he starts a growing spurt thanks to his exposure to the pathogen. The pathogen has similar results on a wolf in Wyoming and a crocodile in the Everglades. The pathogen not only promotes extreme growth, but extreme aggressiveness as well. Not long after the creatures grow and cause havoc in their respective areas of the country, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a genetic engineer and former employee of Energyne reaches out to Okoye. The two team up to venture to Chicago in an effort to steal the antidote to the pathogen from Energyne and cure George. While the two heroes make their plans, the dastardly sibling duo of Claire and Brett have unleashed a signal from a radio tower atop a Chicago skyscraper that will lure the large creatures to the city where they plan to use George to kill Kate after she uncovers their plan to use the pathogen as a biological weapon. Thus, a massive smack down is set between George, the other creatures and Okoye. The creatures are so infuriated by the transmitters signal they attack the city while making their way to the skyscraper in an effort to destroy what is torturing their ears. As expected all the main characters, including the creatures end up at the building, with George holding court on top like an albino Kong.
Needless to say, the battle is massive, and George proves he is the smartest of the large creatures involved in the battle. As with any popcorn flick, there is plenty of dialogue meant to provide chuckles, and Johnson has plenty of opportunities to convey how massive his arms are. For good measure, and more cheese, the filmmakers have brought in Jeffrey Dean Morgan, on loan from “The Walking Dead”, to play a cowboy type government agent, and his character is almost as annoying as his WD character Negan. As for the sibling villains of the story, they appear to have stepped off the set of the rebooted “Dynasty” series, and are typical “polished” bad guys. Johnson is his usual movie star self, and proves he can hold his own against massive CGI creatures. It will be interesting to see Johnson in the role of Black Adam, which will be a spin off of the “Shazam!” movie. “Rampage” falls into my category of “bad movies we love”, and if you just sit back with your popcorn, relax and enjoy the ride, you will experience 107 minutes of mindless fun.
Rated PG-13 / 3 Gorillas (out of 4)