Netflix UK film review: Rampage
Victoria Curatolo | On 20, Aug 2018
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Jake Lacy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Joe Manganiello
Watch Rampage online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is perhaps the biggest male movie star on the planet. In this modern cinematic age where the “movie star” has evolved, Johnson continues to please, entertain and charm the pants off the average movie-goer. This, however, is not the case in Rampage.
Johnson stars as Davis Okoye, a primatologist who cares for a highly intelligent albino silverback gorilla named George, whom he rescued from poachers as an infant. However, disaster strikes when a genetic experiment goes awry, and George mutates into a raging monster, as do various other mammals across North America. Okoye seeks the help of geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) in a bid to create a cure and save George from destruction and eventual death.
Rampage is over the top and inoffensively contrived from the get-go. The film starts with Pkoye accompanied by a standard non-entity of co-stars: a very attractive male dummy, whose ego gets him into trouble (Jack Quaid); a heavy-set brainiac, whose goal is to be a witness to something (anything) extraordinary (P.J. Byrne); and a young, attractive female, who is the only level-headed and understanding member of the group (Breanne Hill). Haven’t we seen these guys somewhere before? The same can be said for the antagonistic evil duo of the film, Brett and Claire Wyden (Jake Lacy and Malin Åkerman), whose chemical company Energyne is responsible for this deadly breakout. These villains offer nothing more than the classic-malevolent-rich-and-slightly-incestuous-sibling dynamic.
Rampage is annoying fallacious. One memorable scene sees Harris talking on the phone in a deep conversation, which she suddenly ignores and remains silent for about 90 seconds, due to a distraction on the TV. Such elements might seem trivial, but it’s these moments that stop you from believing in the characters or the film. There are some sweet and touching moments between Davis and George the gorilla, as they communicate through sign language. The level of communication, however, is ridiculous; George doesn’t know how to signal for help, but he knows how to make obscene gestures with his hands? Sure.
The result isn’t all bad, yet just as you’re starting to root for the film, you find yourself being let down again and again. The same can be said for Johnson. You’re rooting for him, but then remember that he’s trying to act serious (a lot). When you’re expecting some hilarious and delightful gag, you feel uncomfortable, and somewhat confused. Despite his onscreen charm, it’s hard to take Johnson seriously here. Having enchanted audiences with his comedic performances in Moana (2016) and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2018), after Hercules (2014) and San Andreas (2015), one would assume that the actor was transitioning from vacant macho-action roles to characters with more depth and allure. Alas, Rampage suggests this is not the case.
Rampage is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.