Rampage ★★½

Director Brad Peyton, writer Carlton Cuse and star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson struck gold with ridiculous disaster flick San Andreas, but that glint is sadly absent from Rampage. That’s mostly because, unlike their previous project, this one is too conflicted over what end of the spectrum it wants to aim for — a straight-faced shoot/beat/fuck ‘em up, or a tongue-in-cheek sendup of same — that it ends up falling short of both. That’s saying something about a film based on a 1980s arcade game about giant animals smashing up a city.

That conflict, by the way, extends to a lot of mixed messaging in the script and its characters, most notably The Rock himself, who errs so much on the everyman side of his affable persona that he leaves pretty much all of his typical muscle-bound heroism to a giant CGI gorilla. At best, he’s the butt of a perhaps accidental gag on the impotency of American firepower, despite the film’s obvious priapism for the military-industrial complex. Yes, it’s that kind of film.

I must add, however, that the relationship between Johnson and that 800lb gorilla is quite touching, and never treated as a joke; it's an intelligent nod to the contemporary Planet of the Apes series, and one of the few aspects of Rampage that works really well, setting its bar far above your average Michael Bay bullshit. Which is why the parts that don't work make it a middling disappointment as a whole.

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