Of course the Kong-sized gorilla and the giant flying rabid wolf and the mutant monster crocodile in “Rampage” make their way to Chicago and start ripping apart skyscrapers, smashing vehicles and popping humans into their mouths like Junior Mints.
Where else would they go?
Seems like we can’t go more than a year or two without some movie mayhem descending on our city, whether it’s actually called Chicago (“Transformers 3,” “Jupiter Ascending”) or Chicago is standing in for a fictional city (“The Dark Knight,” “Batman v. Superman”).
In the really loud, extremely dumb and consistently predictable “Rampage,” the action starts off in locales such as San Diego and Wyoming, but the REAL carnage takes place in downtown Chicago, due to one of the more ill-conceived Evil Plans in recent film history. (More on that in a moment.)
Dwayne Johnson goes through the muscle-bound motions in portraying the same type of wisecracking, likable but lethal hero he’s played a dozen times before. His Davis Okoye is a San Diego animal sanctuary primatologist (with a Special Forces background, naturally) whose best friend is George, an albino silverback gorilla.
Cut to Chicago, home of the worldwide headquarters for the Engyne Corp., and if you guessed Engyne is headed by a megalomaniacal sociopath and is conducting all sorts of unethical, illegal and potentially catastrophic business, congratulations on having seen other movies, my friend!
Malin Akerman (“Billions”) is the ruthless Claire Wyden, who runs Engyne. Jake Lacy (“The Office”) is her bumbling brother Brett, whose sole purpose in life seems to be hanging around Claire’s office while eating Pop-Tarts and asking stupid questions.
When an Engyne-backed mission in space goes horribly wrong and the last surviving crew member perishes in an explosion, the super-secret samples of experimental serum she was carrying in apparently indestructible capsules plummet to Earth and land in three different spots in the United States.
One lands in Florida, where a crocodile finds it. Another lands in the Southwest, where a wolf discovers it. And the third lands practically at George’s feet.
Given the fact the serum accelerates one’s growth, strength, speed and aggressiveness at an alarming pace, it’s extremely bad luck for America that these capsules were discovered by a wolf, a crocodile and a silverback gorilla, respectively.
As George, the wolf and the crocodile embark on separate, well, rampages, Davis teams up with Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a genetic engineer who tried to stop Engyne and wound up doing time for her efforts. Kate believes there’s an antidote that can get George and company to CALM THE BLEEP DOWN.
Oh, and here comes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, pretty much using the same cadence and the same physicality he employs as Negan on “The Walking Dead,” as Agent Harvey Russell, an operative with considerable clout who says he’s with “The OGA,” as in “Other Government Agency,” as in, “Who’s asking?”
About that Evil Plan. The horrible Claire installs a transmitting device atop the Willis Tower, where Engyne is located. The device emits a signal that will be heard only by the mutant creatures, who will stop at nothing to locate the source of the sound and destroy it. Claire figures if the monsters descend upon Chicago, the government will kill them and she can get their DNA in order to continue her evil experiments.
OK, but they’re coming to YOUR BUILDING, and you’re hanging around the office? Come on, Claire. Did you think this through?
Some of the special effects are impressive. At times it really does appear as if Chicago’s skyline is tumbling down. But the creatures are run-of-the-mill CGI monsters, with ferocious growls and gross dental features and an insatiable need to destroy things.
“Rampage” might not be the worst movie of the year so far, but it’s a contender for most pointless.
New Line Cinema presents a film directed by Brad Peyton and written by Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel. Rated PG-13 (for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief language, and crude gestures). Running time: 107 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.