If Kong: Skull Island, Jurassic World, San Andreas, Planet of the Apes and Pacific Rim were chucked in a blender, the resulting concoction would resemble Rampage. Oh, and there’s a bonus monster on a doomed space station scene, too.
Let’s get the caveat out of the way first: Rampage is based on a 1986 video arcade game. With that in mind you’ll already know to keep expectations low, even with four (!) screenwriters involved. Kids, however, will love it – this is a movie where Dwayne Johnson bumps fists with a Kong-sized albino gorilla named George.
When samples of a gene-editing technology (designed to treat incurable diseases) plummet to Earth from the aforementioned space station, they mutate three terrestrial life forms, resulting in Johnson’s primate pal, a 30-foot wolf, and an ankylosaur-like alligator converging on Chicago to do what it says in the title. The military and FBI are helpless in the face of this monstrous threat, so it’s up to Johnson and geneticist Naomie Harris to find an antidote to the mutagen, stop the rampage and save the city – well, what’s left of it.
The aim of the video game was to trash city buildings in order to advance to the next level, and that’s exactly what happens in the film, with the oversized creatures scaling and toppling skyscrapers while Johnson dodges falling rubble. You certainly can’t fault it for being unfaithful to the source.
There’s also a subplot involving sibling villains Malin Akerman and Jake Levy, whose intention is to weaponise the beasts. Jeffrey Dean Morgan also turns up as a mysterious government agent – “When science sh-ts the bed, I’m the one who changes the sheets,” he declares – and looks to be having far more fun here than in The Walking Dead of late.
Having already piloted an out of control helicopter through disaster movie clichés for director Brad Peyton in San Andreas, Johnson is back on familiar turf, but even his considerable charisma is stretched to breaking point here. Moreover, with cities being destroyed on an almost monthly basis in whatever big budget superhero/disaster movie is currently playing, Rampage‘s spectacular set pieces come off as generic and interchangeable rather than awe-inspiring. You might think you’ve walked into the cinema screening Pacific Rim: Uprising by mistake, so be sure to check your ticket.
In cinemas: April 12, 2018
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Directed by: Brad Peyton