Rampage: Please Stop Destroying Chicago

(L-R) NAOMIE HARRIS as Dr. Kate Caldwell, JASON LILES as George and DWAYNE JOHNSON as Davis Okoye in New Line Cinema's and ASAP Entertainment's action adventure "RAMPAGE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Rampage is the latest in a series of blockbusters that threaten to destroy Chicago–this time with genetically modified animals.

Here’s the basic background: CRISPR made the waves in 1993 by giving scientists a way to treat previously incurable diseases through a process known as genetic editing.  By 2016, U.S. Intelligence Community had determined that genetic editing was considered to be a “Weapon of Mass Destruction and Proliferation.”

Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) is a primatologist working for the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary.   Among all the primates, Davis is closest with a rare albino silverback gorilla, George.  Davis has looked after George ever since he rescued him from the danger that is poachers.  All is well until the Athena-1 satellite blows up and debris crashes to Earth.  This leads to George to genetically mutate in ways nobody could ever expected.

In addition to San Diego, debris landed in the Everglades and Casper, Wyoming, leading to genetic mutations of an alligator and a wolf, respectively.  It’s not until geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) seeks out Davis in which an antidote seems remotely possible.  The two of them have to work together if they want to be able to save George.  It also means teaming up with an OGA agent, Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).  Morgan plays the character in a way in which nobody knows if he’s good or bad.

Siblings Claire (Malin Akerman) and Bret Wyden (Jake Lacy) are the root of everyone’s problems.  It’s their genetic experimentation that blows up in their face.  Just as any business with a crisis in this type of situation, they do the cliche thing by covering it up, starting with the Energyne lab in the Wyden Technologies Chicago-based offices.  Akerman has a comedic background but plays the role with a dramatic angle.

Director Brad Peyton has a way of placing Johnson in harm’s way.  He ups the ante this time around with facing three monstrous animals that are bigger than he is.  It’s up to two people to save the entire city of Chicago, lest there be more destruction than what happened to the Windy City in the Transformers franchise.  Is there something about Chicago that attracts the city to such destructive films?

The Rampage video game, of which the film is based, doesn’t carry much of a narrative so screenwriters were able to build a narrative.  Johnson has a way of making a franchise better and the film plays to this by giving him some humorous lines.  The relationship between Davis and George is one that has a “twisted sense of humor” in the words of the primatologist.  Despite their chemistry and Johnson’s ability to improve a franchise, it doesn’t really add anything to the film.

The problem lies in the fact that Rampage is such a formulaic film in that there’s no real stakes at play because everyone knows that Davis will find a way to save the day.  Where’s the mystery and suspense?  It’s missing!

DIRECTOR:  Brad Peyton
SCREENWRITERS:  Ryan Engle and Carlton Cuse & Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykie
CAST:  Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Breanne Hill, Jack Quaid, Matt Gerald, Jason Liles, Demetrius Grosse, Will Yun Lee, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan

New Line Cinema and ASAP Entertainment will release Rampage in theaters on April 13, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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