Movie review: Rampage

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of another Dwayne Johnson movie. I swear his filmography is becoming a whole separate genre of cinema. This is Rampage.

IMDb summary: When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.

 

Writing

Rampage was written by Ryan Engle (writer of The Commuter), Carlton Cuse (Lost’s showrunner, writer of San Andreas), Ryan J. Condal (writer of Hercules), and Adam Sztykiel (a comedy writer). Quite a few previous connections to Dwayne Johnson on the part of the writing staff. This makes my introductory point sound even more truthful.

Rampage’s script is a very loose adaptation of a video game of the same name but it feels like any generic monster movie. It has some monster v. monster fights that both Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island had (and Godzilla v. Kong will definitely have) and a lot of bloodless destruction (the same amount as another very recent monster movie Pacific Rim: Uprising had). Rampage also features a brief moment of Johnson having fun in a jungle-like environment, reminding the viewer of Jumanji. His character, undoubtfully, has a family to care for but this time around it’s an animal family cause human families are just so 2015 (and so San Andreas). The film’s story also has a genetic engineering plotline, like Jurassic World. In addition to all these moments and details from other pictures, Rampage also has quite a few laughable and cheesy moments that are either incredibly far-fetched or cringe-y. The dialogue isn’t really great either and some of those one-liners and jokes fall so so flat in the movie.  Well, at least it doesn’t have a plug for a franchise at the end, like the other video game movie of 2018 – Tomb Raider.

While this is quite a harsh critique on my part, I still would not like to say that Rampage is a bad movie. It knows what it is (for the most part) and is entertaining (for the most part). Still, it is also very familiar and forgettable.

Directing

Brad Peyton, the director of San Andreas, directed Rampage and I swear these two movies have to be connected somehow. Same writer, same director, same star?! Anyways, the film’s direction was fine. The story was visualized on screen clearly and cohesively. The pacing was okay too. The action was quite enjoyable as well, though, by the end of the third act, I did sort of check out from the movie. The CGI was also fine for the most part, but some wider shots did look pretty fake.

Acting

Rampage’s cast consisted of Dwayne Johnson (Baywatch, FF8, Moana, Central Intelligence + all other movies of his that I’ve already linked to in this review) and some B-listers. Johnson was fine in the action hero type of a typical role, though, I had a hard time buying the fact that one of the most charismatic people on the planet could play a character who can’t connect/communicate with people.

On the supporting front, the movie features a lot of B-listers and even the most well known of them cannot really be seen as big move stars. They all do a good or serviceable job in the film. Naomie Harris is probably the biggest star out of the supporting cast due to her involvement with Moonlight. However, on the mainstream front, while she does have 007 franchise, she is only like a 3rd female lead in those films (behind M/Judi Dench and a revolving door of Bond girls/love interests). Malin Åkerman also stars the film – I don’t think I saw her in a movie since 2012’s Rock of AgesJeffrey Dean Morgan is big on TV with The Walking Dead but isn’t really a movie star either. Joe Manganiello has a cameo-sized role in this film too and he is Deathstroke but nobody really knows when he will get a chance to play that character, as DCEU’s future is so unclear. Jake Lacy also has a role here and, looking through his IMDb, I can notice quite a few films of his that I’ve seen, like Carol and Their Finest. The problem is that I don’t remember him in them.

In short, Rampage is a perfectly serviceable, forgivable, and forgettable action/video game movie. The video game curse is back in full force if you thought that Tomb Raider lifted it at least a bit.

Rate: 2.8/5

Trailer: Rampage trailer 

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Movie review: Triple 9

Movie reviews

Hello!

Greetings!! Today, we are talking about and analyzing the 2nd film, starring Casey Affleck, that I have watched this past weekend – Triple 9!

IMDb summary: A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town.

Reasons/Preview

Triple 9 is a type of film that I would usually skip as I am not the biggest fan of crime dramas/heist movies. However, I have seen quite a few of them, as my dad is a fan of this genre and we would usually go to the movies together. He would patiently sit through my superhero films and, in return, I would watch a crime/action film that he had picked.

Now, I don’t live with my parents anymore, but as the saying goes, old habits die hard, because I went to see Triple 9 by myself. I think the main thing that attracted me to this film was its cast – a lot of accomplished actors play a variety of roles in the movie, as the trailer advertises. I was quite intrigued by this because Hollywood usually doesn’t cast famous actors in the roles of disposable villains, so I knew that the movie wouldn’t be completely black and white.

!SPOILERS!

Writing

The script for 999 was written by Matt Cook. I am not familiar with his previous work but I quite liked the story that he has come up with for this film. As I have mentioned, I liked that the villains of the movie – the robbers – weren’t just simple robbers, but either corrupt policeman with war past or individuals who had family ties with the criminal world and, thus, weren’t able to escape it. I also appreciated the fact that the film questioned the role of a policeman. Is being a cop really just a 9 to 5 job or something more? In addition, the twists and turns as well as all the backstabbing and the double-crossing worked well in a feature like this and wasn’t that predictable. Although, I did foresee which cop will get shot in that warehouse scene.

Lastly, while the ‘good’ policeman and the ‘bad’ policeman were at the center of this film, 999 also had a clearer antagonist – the Russian Jewish Mafia. I don’t know how this combination of nationalities made sense, but it kinda did if one bases his/hers thoughts on racial stereotypes. And, as we all know, Hollywood knows only stereotypes when it comes to creating roles of non-American characters.

Directing

Triple 9 was directed by John Hillcoat and this picture was the first movie of his that I have seen. And I got to say – he impressed my quite a bit. I thought that the movie had good pacing and the action never really stopped but was divided equally between all the acts of the film. I also enjoyed the fact that a lot of the film’s scenes were shot in the dark, as that fit the theme of the criminal underworld perfectly. The movie was also suspenseful and intense. The great example of this was the sequence were the team of cops was pursuing and chasing that Mexican/Latin American criminal in his house and later continued the chase through the whole neighborhood.

Acting

  • Casey Affleck as Chris Allen. Affleck’s role in this film reminded me of his other role in a film Gone Baby Gone (directed by the other Affleck brother). His by-the-books cop role in 999 and the role of the private investigator in Gone Baby Gone had a few similarities. I also quite liked Affleck’s Chris’s and Anthony Mackie’s character’s work-friendship or, at least, a facade of it (very Training Day like). As an actor, Affleck is leaving bigger and bigger impression on me with every movie that I see him in. Yesterday, I have reviewed a different motion picture of his – The Finest Hours – which I saw the same day as 999.
  • Woody Harrelson as Sergeant Detective Jeffrey Allen. Harrelson’s performance in this film also reminded me of a previous role of his in the TV show True Detective. I have only seen a couple of episode of the season 1 of that series, though, so I need to finish it. We will see Woody Harrelson in 5 other films this year, including Now You See Me sequel. In 2017, he will also star in the third installment of the Planet of the Apes reboot series.
  • Anthony Mackie as Marcus Atwood. I am only familiar with Mackie because he plays Falcon in the MCU films. I still need to watch The Hurt Locker for which Mackie received quite a few nominations from a variety of festivals and other institutions. He was really good in 999 as well, especially in the action scenes.
  • Norman Reedus as Russel Welch. The Walking Dead’s star played the criminal who ended up backstabbing not only the police but his robbery teammates. He portrayed the character realistically and did a nice job. I can’t really say anything else, since I don’t watch The Walking Dead. I know, don’t kill me.
  • Aaron Paul as Gabe Welch. I feel like I have seen Aaron in this role of a drug junkie before. Maybe in Breaking Bad but also in A Long Way Down and even in Need for Speed to some extent. Next, we will see Aaron in the action comedy Central Intelligence alongside Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor as Michael Belmont. I first found out about Ejiofor because of the film 12 Years a Slave. He was also in a more recent awards’ nominee –  The Martian. Ejiofor was amazing in 999, as one would expect, and I don’t think that he treated this project as just  a simple paycheck gig. Later on this year, we will see Chiwetel in Doctor Strange.
  • Kate Winslet as Irina Vlaslov. Winslet’s Irina was the only character that I had a few problems with. For one, her outfit was a bit too cartoonish – both the red shoes and that chunky gold necklace were just too much. Her accent was also kinda wonky and would disappear at times. Speaking about Winslet’s other projects, I do hope that she gets an Oscar for her role in Steve Jobs. I also want to check out The Dressmaker  – a smaller Australian film that she starred in last year.
  • Gal Gadot as Elena. I still don’t know how Gal Gadot got the role of the Wonder Woman. Don’t get me wrong – I am happy for her and excited about that film, but how did she manage to acquire that role is beyond me. I don’t think that I saw a single film of hers in which she didn’t play an overly sexualized character.

In short, Triple 9 was definetely not a bad film. It had an interesting story which explored the connections between the criminal underworld and the world of the law enforcement. It had exciting action, which was dispersed throughout the whole film, and really nice performances from an extensive cast of accomplished actors.

Rate: 3.65/5

Trailer: Triple 9 trailer 

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