Dwayne Johnson's charisma proves rock solid when giant mutant beasts create havoc in monster movie Rampage.
Big Meets Bigger.
Back in his wrestling days as The Rock, Dwayne Johnson regularly took on rather brawny opponents. Yet none of them were anything like as burly or belligerent as the 30ft gorilla he faces in this rambunctious monster movie based on the 1980s arcade video game.
To be fair, the silverback gorilla in question, an albino ape called George is actually a big softy at heart. And he’s bezzie mates with Johnson’s gruff primatologist Davis, chummy enough to give him fist bumps and the finger at the San Diego wildlife sanctuary where he lives, as well as communicating with him using sign language. Which is just as well. The anti-social Davis gets on better with animals than people.
Then, however, three canisters containing material from a rogue genetic experiment being conducted aboard an orbiting space station plummet to earth, turning gentle George into a raging giant, and doing the same to a wolf in Wyoming and an alligator in the Florida Everglades, too.
Making matters even worse, the ruthless bosses of the biotech company behind the disaster – a scheming sibling duo played by Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy – have set off a homing signal that is drawing the rampaging beasts inexorably towards Chicago…
As popcorn movies go, Rampage is gleefully ridiculous. But if you can swallow Johnson’s preposterous character - a special-forces soldier before he became a primatologist – then you shouldn’t have any problem with its humungous, rapidly mutating beasts. Jeffrey Dean Morgan adopts the right tongue-in-cheek tone as the drawling, Southern-fried G-man trying get on top of the crisis, while poor Naomie Harris has the thankless task of spouting good sense as the genetic specialist who comes to Davis’s aid.
Of course, creature-feature fans have turned up for the mindless destruction. And happily, when it comes to the effects-laden mayhem, director Brad Peyton really goes to town. Indeed, when they reach Chicago his film’s mutant beasts smash up almost as many buildings as did the giant earthquake in Peyton’s previous collaboration with Johnson, 2015’s old-school disaster movie San Andreas. Yet the gargantuan ruckus on screen would not be nearly so much fun without Johnson’s rock solid charisma.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 107 mins. Director Brad Peyton
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A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.