Movie review: 'Rampage' crushes it with nonstop action

Posted at 8:43 AM, Apr 13, 2018

In one of the brief moments of calmness in the fevered avalanche of destruction that is "Rampage," one hero turns to another and says "I can't believe we survived that."

The note rings false because if there's one thing Dwayne Johnson and his cadre of giant beast battlers prove over and over in the action movie, it's that they can survive anything. Plane explosions. Chopper crashes. Building collapses. Bullets to the gut.

What struggles to survive is logic itself. But such luxuries as common sense are the last thing a movie like "Rampage" needs. Director Brad Peyton, who wrangled Johnson's combustible performances in "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" and "San Andreas," is well aware that audiences just want to see the Rock wreck stuff real good. He not only obliges the indulgences but strives for extra credit at every turn.

Johnson is so big right now that trailers for his next colossal action extravaganza play before his current exploit, all while he's got a TV series rolling on HBO and popping up in a guest host appearance in the mobile trivia game HQ.

He kicks down doors with spin kicks, soars through crumbling buildings with self-assured, death-defying leaps and throws down toe-to-toe with skyscraper-sized beasts.

The source material in "Rampage" is thin -- based on a plotless, building-bashing 1980s arcade game -- but that's fine the movie doesn't need no stinkin' plot. The story is the title itself, and it wouldn't be a surprise if the screenplay consists of "rampage, rampage, rampage some more, pause improvise a catch phrase and get back to rampaging."

The setup has gargantuan, genetically edited creatures -- an albino ape, a flying wolf and horned reptile -- converging to reign destruction on Chicago, with only Johnson and his sidekicks to protect the hapless populace. While government geeks resort to dumb plans like sending helicopters to shoot at the monsters, only to be slapped away into flittering fireballs, Johnson scampers around to use science to cut the behemoths down to size.

Don't overthink it. Just sit back, chuckle and gape at the gloriously improbable thrills. "Rampage" is every bit the disasterpiece fans hoped it would be.

"Rampage" joins the underrated "Tomb Raider" reboot and the world-beating "Ready Player One," "Rampage" in what's now a full-blown trend of passable-to-excellent action flicks adapted from video game concepts -- a development that until recently seemed as likely as a visit from Godzilla-sized dominators. This brave new world seems limitless with possibilities.

Choppers rise, monsters fall. And Dwayne Johnson remains the Rock of ages.

RATING: 3 stars out of 4