Rampage is a searing indictment of the military-industrial complex, the privatization of space, and unrestricted corporate modification of genetic code. The fruits of humanity’s hubris are laid bare in this harrowing vision of a world we are utterly unprepared for.
Just kidding! Rampage is an expensive video game movie about a giant monkey and flying wolf and a spiky lizard and they all fight each other. It’s exceptionally dumb, exceptionally fun, and weirdly faithful to its 16-bit source material. Rampage the game was about monsters smashing buildings and eating people, and Rampage the movie is also about this.
That said, the first half isn’t promising, veering between well-worn disaster movie cliches and weirdly sexualized science banter. Dwayne Johnson plays Davis Okoye, a primatologist who works at a primate center full of awful millennials and, for some reason, at least one grizzly bear. Then two evil, vaguely incestuous CEOs (Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy) drop monster gas from space on Davis’s favorite albino ape (along with a wolf and an alligator), and after the holy trinity of disaster movie exposition (newscasts on the kitchen television, dossiers read aloud, and one conscientious scientist) we’re off!
When the titular rampage begins, the film earns its keep, as the three rowdy-ass monsters pulverize the streets of Chicago and tear through tanks, helicopters, gunships, and a Dave & Buster’s. First the monsters fight the army, then they fight the Sears Tower, and finally they fight each other in a balletic frenzy of cartoon monster mayhem. The film has a high body count for kid-friendly kaiju fare, but hey, so did the game, so long as you kept feeding it quarters. Yes, Rampage is as dumb as a sack of those quarters. But you can’t say the filmmakers didn’t meet their mandate.