OK, hear me out: Rampage, based on the '80s arcade game of the same name, ain't that bad. Oh, it's dumb alright, no question, from beginning to end. But at its core you'll basically find an over-the-top Godzilla-like movie—and there's nothing wrong with that, at least not in the summertime blockbuster sense.
Dwayne Johnson is Davis Okoye, a soldier-turned-primatologist for the San Diego Zoo. Davis doesn't much care for people because of something-or-other about poachers he used to hunt for the Army in his previous life (morality!), but he totally gets along with his albino gorilla pal George (friendship!), possibly because George knows ASL and has a weird sense of humor (complexity!), possibly because Johnson is not entirely unlike a gorilla himself (muscles!). Either way, it's bad news when a black ops science project carried out in space (not kidding) crash lands to Earth, transforming George into a towering behemoth of an ape with rage issues who—get this—goes on a total rampage across heartland America and Chicago.
Elsewhere, other fallout from the space-based experiments winds up mutating a wolf and a crocodile. They also rampage, with their particular mutations providing them with super powers, like flight or spikes they can shoot out of their bodies or super speed; George, meanwhile, just gets huge. What a ripoff.
Turns out the culprit is some mega-corp run by an evil sister-brother team (Watchmen's Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy of The Office), who both suck so hard in this movie it's particularly notable. Lucky, though, that a beautiful geneticist named Kate (Naomie Harris), who was tricked into developing the rampage-inducing experiment (which was in space, remember), teams up with Johnson to stop the, um, rampaging. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) also appears as some shadowy government operative, but his role is literally just him saying stuff like "whirlybird" and "grandpappy" and "this old cowboy" while The Rock is busy asking monsters if they can smell what he's cooking. You bet your ass they can.
Explosions ensue. Everyone runs places. Helicopters are flown, guns are fired and, like the game itself, buildings are punched into piles of rubble. And then, in a way that isn't so much subtext as it is a tacked-on, barely-there sentiment, we get the idea that humans don't always treat animals very nicely. We probably should, lest we become victims of a rampage.
Still, there's no denying Dwayne Johnson's immutable charm, and not every movie can be Citizen Kane. In fact, sometimes we just gotta see gigantic beasts tear shit up. Rampage, if you will.
Note: Rampage also comes in 3-D, though SFR saw the standard version.
+Killer CGI; fab for fans of Godzilla and the ilk
-Oh. Em. Gee. It's so dumb.
Directed by Brad Payton
With Johnson, Harris, Morgan, Akerman and Lacy
Regal, Violet Crown, PG-13, 107 min.