Tuesday 5 October 2010
I feel the need to review this movie, but I'm kind of at a loss for what to say. I think my confoundedness is fitting; it reflects the film's own uncertainty.
Rampage has the dubious honour of being one of Uwe Boll's personal creations. Although it did not spawn from a video game, the film does have a first person rail shooter feel as the audience follows Bill Williamson while he goes on a killing spree. Somewhat unbelievably, Rampage is kind of clever, but whatever chops Boll possesses as an auteur are overshadowed by his politics.
Bill is 23 and living at home. He's got a job but no real goals in life and though his parents are loving, they've decided it's time for him to move on and move out. Bill takes this all in stride but he's pretty comfortable living at home. And it turns out he has made some plans for his immediate future but he's been keeping them to himself as they involve killing a lot of people, robbing a bank, and blowing up cops.
Rampage is pretty simple and you kind of have to admire it for its straightforwardness. It can, at times, read soulless and nihilistic, but I think these criticisms gloss over the film's darker purpose. What really kills the movie, though, is that Bill's rampage is couched within the terms of social commentary. Bill's friend Evan complains incessantly about how society is going down the toilet, how civilization as we know it teeters on the brink of self destruction. Although Bill doesn't appear to share Evan's opinions, the film ends with Bill stating the only way to fix society is to just kill everyone. Contained within Rampage is an unnecessary social message that negates the movie's actual plot. Rampage, you have to understand, is not about one man's revenge upon a cruel and uncaring world, it's actually about a heist. A carefully planned and well executed heist.
It's unfortunate the film goes off on its wild social tangent. Boll's rantings on society's ills derails the heist plot and the movie stops short of making a real or meaningful point...about anything. Having never seen Falling Down, I can't really comment on the similarities between it and Rampage, but the latter does perhaps owe something to Michael Douglas' angry white man. Brendan Fletcher, however, isn't suffering a complete mental breakdown, and though Rampage may be outrageous it lacks any real sense of humour.
I hesitate to suggest the movie had limitless potential (the lone gunman plot can only go so far) but Rampage amazingly teeters on the brink of being an accomplished film. In the end, though, I have to say that Rampage is a film that doesn't really know what it wants to be--a social commentary, a heist movie, or even a character study--and might reflect Boll's own personal battle with filmmakers and film critics.