Some thoughts on Rampage

A giant gorilla and The Rock

Tonight I watched Rampage, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I watched it because I will watch literally anything with The Rock in it. I have even seen Pain and Gain, a film which made me want to remove my brain from my skull and just slosh some bleach around in there for a bit to try to remove the deep sense of shame.

Here are some facts about Rampage I learned from briefly looking at its Wikipedia page:

  • To get inspiration for how to animate the many, many destroyed buildings in this movie, the special effects team watched footage from 9/11, which… yeesh.
  • Rampage is the best-reviewed video game movie on Rotten Tomatoes. 52%, baby!
  • Uwe Boll, king of crappy video game movies, threatened to sue Warner Bros and accused the film of “brainwashing America”.

Now that the tone is set, let’s get into the plot. Spoilers, I guess.

Rampage begins with a scientist fighting a giant mutant rat on a space station. Then the space station explodes. This is a promising start.

Three crates containing the pathogen responsible for the mutant rat fall out of orbit. One of them lands in a gorilla sanctuary run by The Rock, who is a dedicated primatologist. Apparently he doesn’t really like people and would rather hang out with his dogs. The movie never shows us the dogs, which I think is a missed opportunity.

The Rock is best friends with an albino gorilla who lives at the sanctuary. The movie also sets up several human characters, including a man who is scared of the gorillas, a woman who loves The Rock, and another man who watches The Rock drive away and says, “Women love him!” After the first act, these characters are completely dropped from the plot and the movie never mentions them again.

Three minor characters and The Rock, standing next to a rock
Pictured: three irrelevant characters and two Rocks.

The Rock’s gorilla friend gets sprayed by the pathogen and starts getting really big and angry. The Rock teams up with Naomie Harris to try to help him, but then they are all captured by the government.

Meanwhile, the evil company hires a private military company called “Killers R Us” to take out the monsters created by the pathogen. They are led by Joe Manganiello, but he gets killed by a wolf, which I found funny because he played one in True Blood.

This movie got a PG-13 rating in the US, which means it can show people literally being ripped in half, but not The Rock saying “motherfucker”.

A giant wolf jumping through the air to attack a helicopter
This. This is what I paid for.

Now Jeffrey Dean Morgan is in this movie. He works for a mysterious government agency “for when science shits the bed”. It says a lot about the state of modern cinema that this immediately made me assume he was introduced to be the linking character in the Rampage cinematic universe.

There are only three types of dialogue in this movie:

  • Extremely awkward expository dialogue, like, “You remember Dr Kate Caldwell, the brilliant geneticist who used to work at this company, and now blames us for getting her thrown in jail, and then her brother died of cancer while she was in jail?”
  • People reacting to stuff, like The Rock seeing a 100-foot crocodile and saying, “That sucks!”
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan calling himself a cowboy over and over again for no reason.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Seriously, what is this guy’s deal?

All the monster animals make their way to Chicago and start wrecking shit. This part would be pretty cool if I wasn’t thinking about 9/11.

Throughout the movie, the owner of the evil company is seen taking care of her pet rat. There are multiple scenes establishing where the rat is. Eventually Jeffrey Dean Morgan gives it to the military. The rat has no relevance to the plot of the movie.

The Rock and Naomie Harris make it to the lab where the pathogen was created, but he is shot in the gut and falls to the ground. At this point I got really excited, because they’ve already established that the pathogen gives you super-healing abilities, and I thought The Rock was gonna have to infect himself so he didn’t die, and then we would get to see The Rock become The Mountain and have a fistfight with a mutant crocodile in the streets of Chicago. Instead he shows up again like 5 minutes later and is completely fine because “she didn’t hit any major organs”. I think this is an even bigger missed opportunity than not showing us The Rock’s dogs.

Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 22.21.16
My face when I realised this movie wasn’t going to make The Rock super big.

Finally all the giant monster animals get to fight each other. The Rock helps out by firing various weapons at the monsters and screaming. Eventually the giant gorilla wins by stabbing the alligator in the eye with a metal pole.

Everyone thinks the gorilla is dead too, but then it wakes up and gives The Rock the finger. Then the gorilla looks at him and Naomie Harris and makes the finger-in-hole sex sign. The Rock says, “That was pretty funny, man!” and they fist-bump. I’m not joking. That is seriously how Rampage ends.

The gorilla flipping off The Rock
Why the hell not.

So, that was Rampage. It is dumb as a box of rocks (Rocks?) but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy watching it. I would probably watch Rampage 2. But only if they make The Rock big too.

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