RAMPAGE Mini-Review [Fantastic Fest ’09]

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Written and Directed by Uwe Boll

Without question RAMPAGE is the best film Dr. Uwe Boll has ever made.  However, and this is an elephantine however, that statement still needs qualification.  RAMPAGE is fascinating for both its successes and its failures, but ultimately the movie is still a failure; albeit the best failure Uwe Boll has ever been involved with.

The reason it fails is not because it was made with a piggy bank budget or because it featured washed up actors playing villainous dark wizards or sophisticated anthropologists.  No, RAMPAGE fails because it’s about a guy who creates a suit of armor and goes on a killing spree in his home town.  And that is all it is about.  There’s no higher agenda, no important examination of what it means to be directionless in life, of the kind of motivations that fuel people who go postal.  No, RAMPAGE is about a middle class white kid whose parents care about him, who has a job, who has a best friend, and who just decides to up and slaughter dozens of and dozens of men and women because he can.

And what’s so frustrating about that is that Uwe Boll actually brushes shoulders with a higher meaning.  At first it might seem like he’s not only shaping a worthwhile character, but that he’s showing a creativity behind the camera that he’s never exhibited.  For example, when Brendan Fletcher (who does a fine job with what he’s given) first starts his killing spree, we don’t actually see the carnage.  Instead of relishing in it, Boll reverses the camera, giving the viewer a reverse first-person perspective locked on the Fletcher’s face as we hear the muffled screams and gunfires he would be hearing from inside his armor-plated helmet.

It seems like it should be a clever bit of commentary on what the audience typically sees in a movie like RAMPAGE.  By denying the gory shots, Boll has upped the emotional ante considerably, but it doesn’t matter, because all of that is accidental.  It doesn’t take long before Boll is showing us the full-on carnage, forcing the viewer to take a bath in it, practically begging for us to root for the now-severely unlikeable Fletcher as he kills masses and masses of undeserving people.  And what’s even sadder than that plot is the fact that there are people just like Fletcher in the world who are going to look at RAMPAGE and think that it speaks to them, that it’s playing out their angsty fantasy, when really all it is doing is putting another dump-truck full of dead bodies on the screen for no higher purpose than a body count and a controversial (lack of a) message.

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