Jacob Richardson | 11/04/2018
Batshit insane, impossibly stupid and unbelievably entertaining, Rampage is exactly what you’re looking for in a big, dumb disaster movie.
After a gene-altering serum falls from a private, evil satellite in space, albino ape George starts rapidly growing. His uncontrolled aggression is frightening to behold. Even his long-time trainer and friend, Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), struggles to control him. When George starts to run amok in a car park, it is only Davis and Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) who try to stop him. The military intervenes, and Davis and Caldwell end up on a flight with a heavily sedated George and secret Agent Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan); only to find out that not only is their gorilla friend affected, but a giant wolf and an absurdly huge alligator are also running loose; all on their way to a final showdown in downtown Chicago.
In many respects, a film should be judged not relative to every other film, but to it’s own aspirations. It’s impossible, for example, to argue the merits of a children’s film against Children of Men, because they are so wildly intended for different audiences and genres. In this respect, films should, at least on some basis, be judged on how well they succeed in delivering what they set out to do. And while Brad Peyton’s monster movie is never going to grace the halls of great cinema, it is incredibly effective at what it sets out to do; deliver a ridiculous, entertaining ride.
To this end, the script is really irrelevant. It is truly ridiculous, full of banal one-liners and plot holes big enough to drive a giant alligator through. This is coupled with CGI that, at times, and indeed quite regularly, is tremendously poor. It’s odd, because some renderings of the gorillas are good, but then it’s coupled with some often-terrible effects work on the wolf.
Luckily, Rampage is a movie that doesn’t really care whether the plot makes no sense or it looks any good. It’s an assemblage of fist-pumping moments, anchored by actors that know exactly what type of film they are in. None of these more so than Jeffrey Dean-Morgan, who is absolutely outstanding. While Johnson, Harris, a surprise Joe Manganiello and Jake Lacy all have good moments, it’s Dean-Morgan who makes the film watchable. From the second he swaggers onto screen with a terrible southern accent, in a bedraggled black suit and with not only a bedazzled, glittery belt-buckle but a giant pistol in a similarly bedecked holster, he steals the show.
Whether it’s chewing the scenery to the ninth degree, delivering dry one-liners like they’re his bread and butter, or smirking his way through literally every line of shitty dialogue he delivers, Dean-Morgan knows exactly who, what and how he is. It’s a pleasure to watch a great actor just go with it, and it’s his utter commitment to blazing through this content that makes it such a joy to watch him.
The movie around him may stumble and falter at times, but Dean-Morgan draws you in to the point that the latter half of the movie is acceptable in all it’s balls-to-the-wall insanity. It’s a true testament to a film doing what it does well, even if what it’s doing isn’t all that worthwhile.
Rampage is big, dumb and stupid. But it’s also tremendously fun.