Rampage ~ 2009, Uwe Boll, USA/Germany
Before we even get into the movie, let’s talk about this poster really fast. Firstly, I have no idea who that female character is, and I just watched this flick. It kinda looks like Elvira, without her makeup… Yeah, Elvira’s not in this movie. Secondly, I love the glowing praise from “Cool Awesome Movies,” who gives this film a whopping 8 stars!!! Apparently, four stars just wasn’t enough, they really liked Rampage. Who am I to argue?
I’m Chris Ochs, that’s who. Review time.
The single best thing that German director Uwe Boll ever did for his public image was to slowly disappear completely. Let’s talk about that.
In the earlier half of the last decade, openly hating on Uwe Boll was very fashionable, especially in film-centric social circles. By any and all reckoning, here was a man who rightfully deserved to wear the title of “Single worst film maker of all time,” and who was also a belligerent, incompentent dick head, whom nobody could tolerate even on the most basic, human level. According to popular belief, Boll had managed to exploit an obscure German tax loop hole, which allowed him to secure generous financing for a string of woefully ill-advised video game-to film-adaptations, each with relatively high budgets, and occasionally, recognizable actors. They were all unwatchably terrible, and earned consistently poor reviews, which Boll often felt a need to rebut. Inarticulate retaliatory statements from Uwe began to feel pretty commonplace, and the situation slowly began to snowball more and more, until Mr. Boll finally became universally seen as the most despised social pariah of the entire psychotronic film community.
Which is weird, because he’s so charming.
But this was more or less temporary, simply because everyone kinda forgot about him. Once the video game thing had ran its course, Boll’s output became more obscure, and he lost even the faintest chance of ever again knowing the joy that is an American mainstream theatrical release. With his movies no longer rubbed mercilessly in our faces, the world soon found itself with better things to do, and even Boll’s widley accepted status as Humanity’s shittiest director came into question when Tommy Wisseau and James Nguyen hit the scene, jeopardizing Boll’s only accolade ever! Finally, at long last, Uwe Boll, Germany’s greatest living shame, became little more than a horrible, horrible memory for us all.
But he didn’t go away completely. Uwe Boll had just become easier to ignore. It seems that, unbeknownst to many, Boll’s directorial output didn’t actually slow down all that much, if at all. Year after year he somehow continued to churn out terrible movies, and in fact, he remains quite prolific, even to this day. Which is disappointing and terrifying.
In 2009, Uwe Boll directed Rampage, an exercise in shock value violence that has somehow proven to be one of his best received directorial efforts ever. The general consensus across the web is that this film isn’t horrid, putrid dog shit, and that’s a lofty goal which earlier Boll films, like Bloodrayne or Alone In The Dark, would never dare aspire to. Unfortunately, humans are often wrong, and this is one of those times. Rampage is horrible.
The film is best described as being kinda like Joel Shumacher’s Falling Down, as interpreted by some mentally ill teenage boy who needs to be sent to counseling immediately. I absolutely mean it, this movie is fucked up, and without reason, or purpose. It’s not even entertaining, and there’s no merit whatsoever to justify the considerable lapse in human decency required to watch or otherwise engage Rampage. This is not a joke, I mean it, If you find a copy of this movie in the possession of an adolescent, it’s right off to counseling with that one. That is a plain-as-day red flag.
THE PLOT~ Some sheltered, over privileged Millennial who has never known hardship decides that the world is over populated, and that he has the authority to make any sort of decision regarding the future of the human race, even though he’s just some shit head who isn’t qualified to do anything. This fucking tool, who knows absolutely nothing except for what he read on Facebook this morning, then concludes that it is his right to walk around town indiscriminately murdering dozens upon dozens of people, while wearing a bullet proof costume that he bought on the internet, even though the amount of humans who would need to die in order for literally any sort of impact on the Earth to be felt would be in the billions, meaning that he achieves absolutely nothing. So, this kid dresses up in his stupid little suit, marches out, and murders a whole bunch of people, which is really, really easy for him to do. Then, he frames the whole thing on his best friend, and retires home to the comfort of his parents house, where he can continue to not pay rent or get a job, i.e., exist as a non-contributing drain on resources, what a hypocrite.
And that’s the movie.
“It’s my masterpiece!”
The violence in this movie is basically inexcusable, but heed my words, fellow movie nerds; do not take my scathing criticism for Rampage’s violent content as some sort of backhanded endorsement, I beg of you. this is not some psychotronic milestone that you need to check off your bucket list by any means, in fact, if you even have a psychotronic bucket list, then you’ve already spent a lot of time on films that are much, much more extreme than Rampage, and most likely every single one was a much better movie anyway. For instance, I’ve seen, AND loved many, many films which were much more violent, graphic, obscene, depraved- you name it. Films with similar themes, like Falling Down, Death Wish, Taxi Driver, Ms. 45, Dead Man’s Shoes, The Devil’s Rejects, I Spit On Your Grave, and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, all of these are films which I have seen, and appreciate. Why, then, are those movies a-okay, while Rampage is not? Really, there are two reasons.
1. Rampage isn’t good enough: Simple as that. You can be offensive, or you can suck ass, but if you do both, people are a lot less likely to tolerate your bullshit. A genius has some clout to work with, and can buy their way out of controversies. If you’re a doofus, you better pray that your movie at least brings in enough money to cover your ass, because if it doesn’t, then we’ll just run you out of town.
2. The director is an idiot: This does matter. It’s the difference between seeing violent content in a painting done by Leonardo Da Vinci, or seeing violent crayon scribblings perpetrated by some creeper with a learning disability. Boll has no thesis, his film has no subtext, it’s nothing more of what it appears to be at its most superficial layer, because that superficial layer is in fact Rampage’s ONLY layer. This film is so shallow that it’s emotionally alienating, and comes across as a joyless, empty exercise in bottom-of-the-barrel shock value for shock value’s sake- and that’s Boll at his worst. (See: Postal.) Rampage is, in essence, inexcusable, and socially irresponsible.
That being said, as far as I know, this is his best movie. I want to clarify that there are plenty of Uwe Boll films which I have never seen (thank freaking goodness,) but Rampage certainly beats all of his video game films by miles. It’s almost a real movie! The dialogue, and the acting especially is suspiciously decent and naturalistic. Kinda makes a guy wonder… Boll supposedly wrote this one, but I stand here before you and call bullshit on that, at least so far as the dialogue is concerned; Boll’s English isn’t good enough, literally any footage of him actually speaking is adequate proof of this. What had to have happened is that either Boll brought in a native English speaker to fine tune each and every line, or the actors themselves were given full license to re-work and/or improvise their dialogue as needed. The suggestion that these lines are word for word Boll cannot be entertained, it’s simply not true.
But that short list of positive things I can muster up on Rampage’s behalf has now exhausted me, and we’re back to facing the harsh, uncompromising truths associated with Uwe’s cinematic output. Rampage blows. It’s not smart enough to be as offensive as it is, and the end result feels uncomfortably empty, stupid, and lame. Really, the only thing we, as humans, can do is to band together and hope that if life exists elsewhere in the universe, that we can keep Uwe Boll’s body of work hidden from them forever, because we’re probably on thin ice as it is, and that’s just the thing to crack it.