Rampage (2009)

Vengeance is ruthless.
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Rampage - Vengeance is ruthless

In 2009 Uwe Boll unleashed Rampage on the not so unsuspecting public. The expected amount of controversy fuelled marketing unfortunately seems to overshadow the fact that this is a well constructed, well thought-out film with numerous thought provoking (although mixed and unfocussed) messages to get the grey matter whirring and the hippies re-evaluating their ideals. Amid the insensitivity and relentless violence is a lesson about the immorality of natural selection, leading to confusing notions about why survival of the fittest is the driving force behind evolution and what is right and wrong. Rampage includes the perfect anti-hero who, were it not for a few flashes of human greed, would probably gain some sympathy and understanding from the audience despite his disregard for human existence.

Often toted as a revenge movie, Rampage manages to purvey much more depth if attention is paid to the finer details rather than the atrocities forced down your throat. Not to say that the atrocities aren't hard hitting. The cold and emotionless massacre with no consideration for the concept of innocence is the reason that sensibilities were offended and why the initial impact of the film easily distracts from the thought that has gone into the story.

On the higher level Rampage is just an excuse to shock with emotionless killing, under that it is a well constructed and calculated revenge story and deeper than that it is questioning the point of morality versus nature. Brendan Fletcher is brilliantly cast as the rampaging Bill Williamson, he plays a perfectly normal person before he gets his chance to reveals his killing potential and doesn't even approach the stereotypical "slightly damaged" character that is the atypical psycho in such movies. Once again, thought has gone into his role to make him extremely normal which again adds to the shock value when Bill behaves in an extremely abnormal way. The suspicions would never be present if it wasn't for the numerous flash-forwards which are probably a bit too revelatory.

Bill Williamson is a normal 23 year old living with his parents (played by Matt Frewer and Lynda Boyd in roles not much more than cameos despite probably being the most recognisable actors in the film). Bill sees life how it is and gets through it best he can. His closest friend is Evan Drince (played by Shaun Sipos using his skills learnt from the Brad Pitt School of Acting). Evan is a typical "all mouth and no action" hippie spouting his mantra on saving the world but achieving little more than a few hits on his YouTube channel.

Bill has his own solution to the world's issues and is quite happy that he can prove his theory that people are not equal and that survival of the fittest still reigns supreme in nature. He achieves this with a Kevlar suit and a shit-load of ammo and explosives. It's about survival of the human race rather than survival of individuals and big picture-wise it is hard to find the flaws in Bill's argument. Every word that comes out of Evan's mouth seems like nonsense despite him spouting what people seem to want to hear.

The way Boll makes what is obviously wrong seem acceptable and makes what "good" people strive for seem like hypocritical fairytale utopia is part of the genius of the script and characters of Rampage. The other genius part is relentless slaughter in the most inappropriate places executed with zero empathy or remorse.

Specific scenarios seem to have been picked for some of the extended slaughter scenes to highlight the state of wealthy society. Places such as the beauty salon (with a brief appearance from Katharine Isabelle from Ginger Snaps fame) to highlight where society has lost its way with regards to priorities in life and the bingo hall filled with zombie like populace who have already given up on existence. The need for survival is a lost talent in humanity and maybe the occasional reminder is a good thing.

The tone of the film can be a bit preachy in places, most noticeably from the background noise in certain scenes, war and terrorism all over the TV and radio filling in the places where ambient music usually would suffice. This preachiness is relatively subtle compared to Boll's PETA footage in Seed and at least here there is relevance.

With regards to substance, Rampage is probably not a film that will get many revisits. There is not much more to learn from repeated viewings as the film gets across its warped significance quite clearly. It is designed to shock and make the viewer question their morals but above and beyond that there isn't much else. Besides Fletcher's performance as Bill the rest of the actors are quite sub-par but due to 90% of the film containing Bill as the only significant character this isn't really an issue.
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