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dir Brad Peyton
scr Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J Condal, Adam Sztykiel
prd Beau Flynn, Hiram Garcia, Brad Peyton, John Rickard
with Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Jason Liles, PJ Byrne, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton, Will Yun Lee, Breanne Hill
release US/UK 13.Apr.18
18/US Warner 1h47
I can't believe we survived that: Johnson and Harris
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
You never expect complexity or coherence from a Brad Peyton film, and indeed you get neither here. But you do get rather a lot of guilty-pleasure fun. The thinly wrought characters continually spout sharply witty banter and corny lines of dialog that describe the film they're in ("Well that sucks!" or "I can't believe we survived that!"). And while the effects aren't exactly first-rate, the mayhem is jaw-dropping.
At a San Diego wildlife park, ex-soldier Davis (Johnson) is the primate specialist. His best friend is albino gorilla George (Liles), who becomes both enormous and more aggressive after being infected by a DNA-altering experiment that fell to earth when an orbiting laboratory failed. The bio-tech company's sibling bosses (Akerman and Lacey) need to capture George to salvage their research; Davis just wants to save George's life with the help of geneticist Kate (Harris) and gunslinging federal agent Russell (Morgan). But there's also a gigantic, increasingly destructive mutant wolf and alligator heading toward Chicago.
Barely a moment in this movie feels like it could actually happen, from the bonkers premise to the quiet dramatic conversations that reveal the characters' back-stories. And Peyton directs the film for dummies, telegraphing every exciting moment, overstating each plot point and directing actors to the broadest possible facial expressions. So an audience member has two choices: let the film drive you round the bend with its idiotic nonsense, or sit back and enjoy the carnage.
Johnson is on charming, super-pumped form as the beefy scientist who puts on a chest-swelling display of machismo for every man (or ape) he meets. Thankfully, Harris' sassy Kate continually teases him about this, while also making fun of the clearly pointless gung-ho military reaction. Meanwhile, Morgan has a great time as the sardonic fed with a McConnaughey drawl. And Akerman and Lacy make a terrific villainous duo, with her sharklike brutality and his hapless dopiness.
Of course, it doesn't matter that there's nothing to these people beneath the surface (even Davis' and Kate's back-stories are trite). Peyton is here to demolish Chicago in frenzied style, including a rather astonishing sense of brutality as scores of people are crushed or eaten. Meanwhile for the principal cast, the laws of physics simply don't apply. This element is pretty much all that's left of the source videogame. Otherwise, this feels more like a trashy Jurassic knock-off. And there's nothing wrong with that.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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