Rampage (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Rampage</strong> (2018)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) Hey wow—I recall playing Rampage-the-videogame on personal computers in the late 1980s, wowed by a 16-colour palette (EGA forever!) and having rather a lot of fun with it. (I just had a spin through the online abandonware browser emulator and it’s pretty much what I remembered.) Rampage the movie, of course, is something else: A thin excuse to have monsters destroying good chunks of a city, finally proving that seventeen years after 9/11, we’re once again ready to rumble through devastated downtown areas. Dwayne Johnston (who else?) leads the film, playing the kind of superheroes that is de rigueur for that kind of movie. The scientific blablabla is nonsense, but it quickly gets us to the super-monsters destroying cities, albeit with a slightly harder edge than I expected from a big PG-13 movies: there’s some faintly upsetting almost-R violence in the film that I did not necessarily enjoy. Still, Rampage is meant to be dumb fun and it knows it: one of the best non-CGI parts of the film is Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a mysterious scenery-chewing Southern man-in-black kind of special operative stealing every scene he’s in. Johnson is up to his usual leading-man standard (but is he getting overexposed?) while Naomie Harris is always enjoyable to look at—this film not being an exception. Of course, the point of Rampage is seeing Downtown Chicago landmarks being destroyed as thoroughly as possible—surely I can’t be the only one thinking about a Rampage/Transformers 3 mash-up? The film is both better and worse than expected: better in that it delivers the goods and keeps moving, with some great special-effects sequences along the way. Worse, because of the too-high level of violence, and overall impression that we’ve seen urban destruction so often lately (even in director Brad Peyton’s oeuvre, as per the somewhat more ludicrously enjoyable San Andreas) that Rampage is going to sink back into anonymity within months.

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