George, the last albino silverback, is Davis’ best friend. They stumble over a roadblock that’ll be familiar to anyone in a long-term relationship when George is accidentally struck with a genetic-enhancement serum after it meteors out of space, where it was being tinkered on by the nefarious Engyne corporation. Stop me if you’ve heard this one already…
George ends up growing to Kong-esque proportions, and begins, um, rampaging across the country, right into the heart of Chicago’s CBD, where he collides with two other mutated beasts: a wolf with porcupine spines and bat wings, and an enormous alligator about the size of an ocean liner. Davis, not a people person, has no choice but to team up with a disgraced geneticist (Naomie Harris) and a wisecracking government spook (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to save the world from destruction, and rescue his buddy.
(Morgan, smirk plastered across his face as if in rictus, still gets to deliver the picture’s funniest line, after the sniveling, Trump Junior-ish Engyne co-founder Brett Wynden, played by Jake Lacy, blames his sister, played by Malin Åkerman, for the mutations: “Since when is complicity a crime?”)
Would it shock you to learn that this is based on a video game? And not one of those sophisticated, uber-confusing adventures that Hollywood has no idea how to adapt, but a basic, pixelated relic of the arcades? You wouldn’t know from all the padding. Though the final showdown in Chicago is an impressive feat of technological wizardry (even when it confoundingly evokes a skyscraper tumbling à la 9/11, except now with giant animals dragging it down), Rampage takes too long to get there. Honestly, this thing should have been 45 minutes. It might have been a masterpiece.
Peyton’s well-engineered chaos can’t compare to the early, exceptionally humane sequence of Johnson—tender as he’s ever been—cooing and communicating with CGI animals in their habitat. It’s an ideal fusion of his megawatt charisma with cinematic special effects; one that doesn’t require him to simply say “oh, s***” repeatedly as some wolf-porcupine-bat hurls cars at his head. NB: Rampage has four screenwriters.