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Rampage review - dumb action makes up for bland characters and story

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Adapted from the relatively small video game series, Rampage sees Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson face off against giant mutated animals causing chaos across America.

Credit: varazdin.hr

Whilst the film does live up to its name in terms of action, the mixed pacing along with some terrible characters make it hard to love.

After an explosion on a space station causes three research pods to crash land on Earth, Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) is left wondering what to do with his friend George, an albino ape, after he is exposed to the toxins from within one of them. Rapidly growing in size and become noticeably more aggressive, George is one of three affected animals who begin to storm through America towards Chicago for reasons unknown. With the help of genetic researcher Dr Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), Davis follows the creatures across the country in an attempt to put a stop to their carnage and save his friend.

Despite being sold on its chaotic premise, we have to wait quite a while for Rampage to live up to its title. For the first hour of the movie, there isn’t an awful lot going on bar some unnecessarily lengthy scenes of exposition and a number of ham-fisted comedic moments that have a poor success rate. Whilst there are some flash points of action that keep it interesting enough, the lack of meaningful character development and sluggish pace make it feel like we’re just going through the motions in order to get the giant animals to the city.

When we do reach Chicago however, the quality picks up significantly as the trio of mutated animals proceeds to tear up the city, and many of the people in it. This is where Rampage is at its best: as it becomes wholehearted, popcorn-munching fun that doesn’t take itself at all seriously. The action is nothing ground-breaking and consists mainly of the animals ripping apart buildings or hurling military vehicles into each other, but it’s fun to watch nevertheless. The finale is also great, in which we see Davis dive headfirst into fighting these monsters, which makes for some excitingly cheesy moments.

Outside of the spectacle though, Rampage has very little to offer in terms of characters, which, in a film about giant monsters, are necessary for some basic relation to the story. Whilst Davis is likeable enough as our protagonist, it would have been nice to see more to him than just being a big, strong animal lover, as, outside of his relationship with George, he feels a little bland. The same can be said for most of the film’s characters who are mostly walking stereotypes, particularly Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Harvey Russel who fits the bill as mysterious agency cowboy. That being said though, in a film like this, the characters' lack of depth can be somewhat overlooked, as most of the actors put in good enough performances.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for Rampage’s villains Claire and Brett Wyden, played horribly by Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy respectively, who are thoroughly annoying every time they appear on-screen. Mostly there for comedy, the two are supposed to be the typical corporate villains but seeing as most of their scenes are nothing but exposition filler consisting of some cringe-inducing jokes, their time on screen is almost unbearable and severely damages the film.

Overall, Rampage delivers on its premise for the most part, with the eventual destruction of Chicago being glorious to behold; it just takes a little too long to get there. That along with the two-dimensional characters and poorly written dialogue mean it’s not quite the care-free movie many may want, but it’s still dumb enough to be mostly enjoyable.

Rampage is in cinemas now, distributed by Warner Bros.

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