Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Rampage; yeah, of course the wolf can fly

The trailer for Rampage had me with that line, because Dwayne Johnson has all the charm it needed. And also because it proved that the movie understood that it was dumb, which makes a nice change.

The actual movie’s great fun. It’s idiotic and it doesn’t make any sense, but it hangs together better than a lot of Marvel movies I’ve seen. It also knows when to throw a character away or down the gullet of a big monster. In most movies I’ve seen, Dwayne’s team of zoo dweebs would have stuck with him throughout the movie; in Rampage, once Dwayne’s busted and crammed onto a military transport, the dweebs are left stuck in San Diego and we never see them again. Similarly when the bad guys send bad guy mercenaries into the wild to hunt down a thirty foot flying wolf they aren’t expecting to meet, they get et to the last man, helicopter and all. Sure, their leader looks like he’d have been fun to see more of, but they were completely outmatched; there was no way he was going to make it. This cheery willingness to put interesting people on the screen, and then not keep them around is something I wish other people would learn from.  No-one wears out their welcome.

And the action setpieces work. The movie opens up with a space station full of genetic lunacy exploding while the last survivor tries to get out with a couple of samples. She does not make it, but for her brief time on screen, we’re rooting for her, and there’s just enough action to keep our pulses racing and not so much that we forget there’s a person in the middle of it. Which pretty much sets the tone for proceedings, equal part Dwayne being Dwayne and stuff getting trashed for no especially good reason. 

And there’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the role of sinister yet good hearted government fixer Russell; I’d watch a whole movie about Russell if it weren’t for the fact that Morgan makes him so effortlessly effective that there would be no real stakes in Russell: the Movie. Victory would be inevitable, with nothing left to wonder about other than just how many low key wisecracks Russell could fit in before his opponents shot their own feet off. Morgan’s so much fun that each time he shows up you welcome the cameo instead of wondering just how he always knows where to be at the right moment, and how he gets there without breaking sweat. It’s a shame Morgan’s been tied up playing Negan these last couple of years, because he’s far too much fun to waste on a bummer like Walking Dead.

Rampage isn’t a great movie, or even a particularly good one, but I wish there were more simple crowdpleasers like it.

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