Rampage (2018)

I was shopping at The Exchange — it’s a used DVD store you can find in both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland areas — and I was listening to a kid excitedly describe a movie to his dad, breathlessly detailing how a space station crashes and all these boxes fall into zoos and game preserves and how regular animals become so big that he couldn’t even figure out how big they are. It sounded like the best movie ever made, because it was being remixed through the brains of a ten-year-old. So that’s exactly how I approached the movie, deciding that instead of being critical, I should just remember how I felt watching movies like Destroy All Monsters.

Rampage is big, dumb, loud and silly. Guess what? It’s also exactly what it should be — a giant monster movie based on a video game starring The Rock. If you are expecting Truffaut, get the fuck off my website.

Directed by Brad Peyton, who also worked on Dwayne Johnson’s films Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas, this is a fast-moving slam-bang action fest. And if you’re looking to shut your brain off and just watch giant monsters decimate cities and one another, good news. It’s exactly that.

The Athena-1 space station — owned by the evil gene company Energyne — is being destroyed by mutant rats when one lone doctor manages to get research canisters back onto Earth, where they crash land into the swamps of the Everglades, the forests of Wyoming and the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary.

That’s where primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) works. He’s a former US Army Special Forces black ops soldier whose record is filled with redacted missions and was also part of an elite anti-poaching unit. If you’re saying — but wait these things seem quite ridiculous — of course they do. Certainly you can be all these things and more, also able to speak to gorillas and have an albino one named George as your best friend. It’s The Rock — if he wants his character to be able to juggle thunder and fart fire, just let him.

George ends up finding one of those samples and begins to grow, just as the other two creatures — a giant crocodile and a wolf — do the same. The bad guys lure them to Chicago with a sonic beacon, all hell breaks loose, the US Army obviously screws things up and only a rogue government agent (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as if he’s having the most fun ever), The Rock and a scientist (Naomie Harris, The Pirates of the Carribean films and Moneypenny in Skyfall and Spectre) can save the day.

If watching a team of mercenaries battle a giant wolf that can shoot quills and fly seems like your idea of a good time, well, here you go.

It’s packed with product placements, like the Bronco that The Rock drives (it’s actually an unreleased 2004 concept car) and a Dave and Buster’s being destroyed — look for Rampage: City Smash to play when you’re there! — but again, I gave this movie the widest of berths.

If you were ten years old again, wasn’t this what you’d want to see? The Rock armed with a grenade launcher teaming up with a white gorilla as he battles a real life dragon? Don’t lie. You totally would.

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