Run-of-the-mill monster mayhem drama

Troy Ribeiro/IANS
Friday, 13 April 2018

Rampage 
Language: English
Director: Brad Peyton 
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy and Jeffery Dean 
Showing at: Cinepolis, CityPride, PVR, E-Square, INOX
Rating:  ** and a half

The title says it all…This latest offering from Brad Peyton, who had earlier given us San Andreas, goes headlong in destroying, not only “the world” in its cinematic universe which ironically is the city of Chicago, but also the senses of the audience.

Rampage 
Language: English
Director: Brad Peyton 
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy and Jeffery Dean 
Showing at: Cinepolis, CityPride, PVR, E-Square, INOX
Rating:  ** and a half

The title says it all…This latest offering from Brad Peyton, who had earlier given us San Andreas, goes headlong in destroying, not only “the world” in its cinematic universe which ironically is the city of Chicago, but also the senses of the audience.

Loosely based on the classic arcade game of the late 1980s where players control giant animal monsters levelling a city for the sheer joy of it, the film lacks the immersive thrill. It is also a modern take on King Kong and Godzilla, where instead of one giant animal, we have three enormous mutant creatures doing the needful.

The narrative begins with the malfunctioning of a satellite in space after a series of lab-rat experiments conducted aboard go horribly awry. The scientist on board is evacuated only after she is forced to carry the experimental gene-mutating formula to Earth. 

On Earth, at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, we are introduced to Davis Okoye a primatologist and former army special forces anti-poaching team member, who can talk to animals. He looks after the gorillas and specifically the giant albino, silver-back male named George. George communicates in sign language and has a special bond with Davis.

Meanwhile, the spacecraft carrying the scientist explodes in mid-air and the three canisters of the experimental gene-modifying gas crash land in Florida, Wyoming and San Diego, each dosing a different wild animal (a crocodile, a wolf and George). The mysterious experimental gas turns the three animals into giant, aggressive and emotionally unstable beasts. They destroy buildings, crush cars, toss tanks and bite helicopters out of the sky. Sensing a link in the behavioural pattern of the three animals and wanting to save his friend George and stop the other two from destroying “the world”,

Davis with the aid of a discredited genetic engineer named Dr Kate Caldwell and the Marine elite force, takes it upon himself to find out who mutated the animals and why?

The plot is simple and definitely indulges in absurdities. While the film starts off with a promise, by mid-point the film ceases to exist as the dialogues are sort of campy and lazily written and the narrative doesn’t much bother with logic or reason. There are moments that play earnestly and you might be inclined to think that the film believes in its premise. But, despite having some suitably epic moments that deliver on a pure spectacle level, there are times driven by the CGI influenced action binge that seem ridiculously tedious. 

Dwayne Johnson with rock solid charisma makes every scene of his enjoyable. He holds his own against his co-actors and matches the magnitude of the monster animals with élan. Naomie Harris as Dr Kate Caldwell makes for an interesting sidekick.

While the film is a cautionary tale about the dangers of biological manipulation, it offers nothing exceptional that one has not seen in earlier films of the same genre.I

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