Brad Peyton’s entertaining and action-packed adaptation of the 1980’s arcade game Rampage hits the big screen with a familiar path of destruction we have seen many times before.
Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) is an ex-Army special op turned primatologist who trains gorillas in the wildlife sanctuary of the Wyoming Zoo. Davis is especially close to George, an albino gorilla whom he saved from poachers as a baby and raised. Together they have an unshakable bond that can only be described as brotherly. This bond is put to the test when a genetic experiment crashes into the wildlife sanctuary and its mysterious green mist infects George giving him increased strength and he has increased in weight and height and unpredictable fits of rage. Davis doesn’t know what happened to his gentle buddy, but he is trying to keep the incident quiet because if it got out, George will put be down.
Meanwhile, Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a discredited genetic engineer, and former geneticist for Energyne, hears about George on the news. She knows exactly what happened to him and comes to the sanctuary to help cure him. She tells Davis that she is the one who engineered the pathogen and she knows how to restore George to his gentle self. Together they embark on a North American quest, leading them to Chicago with an unsuspected ally in Agent Russell (Jeffery Dean Morgan) to get the antidote. However, little do they know that George is not the only species who came into contact with the green mist; a now thirty-foot wolf dubbed Ralf and Lizzy the Crocodile have become infected. They must race to save Chicago before Energyne and sister brother team Clair and Brett Wyden (Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy), who are behind this mess in the first place, can weaponize the creature’s DNA to sell to the highest bidder.
Rampage began its life as a 1980’s arcade game. I have to admit, I spent A LOT of time and quarters in the arcade and this was one of my favorite games. The premise of the game was to control George, Ralph and Lizzy, who used to be humans and destroy as many cities around the world all while avoiding the police and military forces. Looking back, I think the creators were ahead of their time with the mature themes in the game (pre-Grand Thief Auto). The monsters can gain strength by eating people and food but will lose strength by eating a toaster or something like that. Its big screen debut has pretty much the same premise except for a few minor details. Here, the monsters start out as a normal gorilla, wolf and crocodile until they are exposed to the mysterious green mist.
Normally, when we see Dwayne Johnson in an action movie, he’s Special Agent Hobbs, or he is on some type of military recovery team. But in his latest movies, he has taken on more non-characteristic roles such as Spencer in Jumanji and here as Davis. It is nice to see him in roles that go against what we are used to seeing. Naomie Harris’ career has spanned the gambit of action, drama and Sci-fi movies. We are used to seeing her in James Bond movies as Money Penny or as Tia Dalma/Calypso in Pirates of the Caribbean series, and each time, she gives a stunning performance. Last but not least, we cannot forget Jeffery Dean Morgan’s cowboy version of Agent Russell. We all know him as the sarcastic and manipulative Negan in The Walking Dead. While we can still see glimpses of Negan, it’s safe to say, he and his barbwire bat do not fully emerge.
Peyton’s adaptation of Rampage while entertaining, resembled a lot of movies wrapped up into one. It’s like the albino King Kong, Lake Placid and the black wolf from Twilight teamed up to cause havoc across the country sprinkled with a little San Andreas. The story is very easy to follow and the special effects are off the chain. Especially, Lizzy who looked like a cross between two dinosaurs from Jurassic Park and a rhinoceros.
Overall, not a bad movie. It was better than I thought it would be thanks to the special effects and Johnson’s presence.