Good movie! The acting was sparse, and wasn't really needed in a movie of this type. But the lead role played by Brendan Fletcher was remarkable. He put on a stunning performance with his psycho role. 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. Overall, it was better than an average. However, the biggest compliment that I can pay to this movie is that it sparked my interest in non-adaptation Uwe Boll movies. This film in really not for everyone.
Bill Williamson is a warped, frustrated young man who hates his life and hates society which leads him to be driven over the edge of sanity while keeping his craftyness on. He is in his early twenties, lives with his parents and he works a low-paid job as a mechanic. Psychologically, he is continually bombarded with the problems of the world, by ubiquitous TV sets, radios, and the views of Evan Drince, a left-wing philosopher who seems to be his sole friend. One day, Bill, after being hurt after his parents tell him that it's time he left home, and tired of being victimized by his nasty boss at work, Bill acts upon his plan to reduce the town's population. He believes overcrowding causes the world's problems.
Determined to extract revenge upon his small town where he lives, Bill builds himself a full-body suit of Kevlar armor, complete with a ballistic helmet and a paintball mask.
One day, Bill dons his suit of Kevlar armor, and goes to town. First he incapacitates the police by car-bombing their headquarters with a bomb-laden van. He then begins to kill the town folk, shooting people at random, including the coffee shop owner with whom he earlier had argued about not preparing the coffee as he ordered.
Bill enters a beauty salon to take a rest and have a drink of water from his rampage. But then he kills all of the employees and customers (all of them women) in cold blood because he was forced to remove his paintball mask to have some water.
Next, in the film's funniest scene, Bill enters a bingo hall where he is hardly noticed by the elderly and senial people... all playing bingo. Out of pity, Bill does not open fire on the senior citizens playing bingo, but instead orders a sandwich and a drink from the concession stand and then walks out of the building, deciding to let the bingo-playing old people live since their lives will end sooner then most others.
A little later, Bill robs a bank, killing some of the employees. Outside the bank he puts on a show by burning fake money, which he had printed up earlier, to show that it is worthless and causes the problems of the world. Bill then goes to the fast-food place and kills the female countergirl whom he insulted earlier over the bad fried chicken he was served the previous day.
Bill then drives out of town with a small group of police in pursuit. But Bill has even more out-of-the-blue tricks up his sleave when he sets off some roadside bombs, destroying the police cars, and drives off the road into the nearby forest, with the sheriff and the last surviving cops in chase. But Bill ambushes and kills them all.
After the killings, Bill calls Evan, who is in the forest nearby expecting him for a mano-a-mano paintball competition. When he arrives at the forest, Bill apologizes to Evan for having him wait for an hour. He then immobilizes Evan with a stun gun, places a pistol in his hand, and shoots him in the head to simulate suicide. Bill leaves the body of Evan wearing the armor suit, and holding the weapons of the massacre. He leaves the forest and makes his way home, arriving before his parents arrive with horror stories about the killings in town. After listening to his parents, he retires to his bedroom to sleep.
In his room, while packing his belongings and stolen bank money, he hears a local television news report that police believe Evan Drince is the dead perpetrator of the killings and the bank robbery. The police have arrested Evan's father, a well-known extremist and political hack whom they blame for influencing him to carry out this killing spree.
In the final scene, the deranged Bill leaves the house of his parents, as told. The story of the mass murder concludes with a video recording of Bill announcing his departure on a personal quest to unknown whereabouts, to further reduce the world's population in more mass shootings and to frame more people he befriends to continue on his evil and misanthropic quest.
"Vengeance is Ruthless"
When we think of Uwe Boll, we think of a director who is crazy and is seemingly incapable of making a good, worthwhile film. Rampage is something slightly different though. It's actually well made, and the lead, Brendan Fletcher actually gives a pretty good performance. So Rampage isn't another piece of shit from Boll, but actually a pretty good movie. I had a hard time gathering my feelings on this one though. It's entertaining and fairly intelligent at times, but the way it all wraps up seems a little too easy and that's when some glaring holes start to become present.
A 23 year old, Bill, still lives at home with his parents and some weird, crazy anger about him that it seems he is able to hide from everyone. He builds an armored suit for himself and then straps up and goes into town on a bloody "Rampage." The "Rampage" itself is actually handled pretty well. The problems come from lack of character development and from a sloppy ending.
This isn't a movie that I would say is worth watching, but as far as mindless entertainment goes; you could do much worse. I don't know if I like this movie or not, but I know I don't hate it. There's the whole moral factor that will certainly turn people off, but if you're willing to just accept that it's a movie, then that won't affect you as much.
I found it better than I expected, but I have to ask myself what the purpose of this movie is? A guy thinks the human race sucks, so he goes on a huge killing spree, steals a bunch of money, frames his best friend, and gets away with it. Are we suposed to root for him? Anyways, I guess the sick little boy in me who enjoyed blowing up GI Joes with firecrackers liked this movie.
If you can let go the hate you have for Uwe Boll and can handle the kind of brutal exploitation the film has to offer you might just really like "Rampage."
Now, it honestly wouldn't surprise me if Boll had a few more decent films up his sleeve. If anyone told me a few days ago that I'd be saying this, I'd definately dub them insane! Oh how things change!
Bill Williamson (Brendan Fletcher) is just a regular dude living at home with his parents and bouncing from dead-end job to dead-end job. That's all about to change. Bill seems to have taken a cue from his friend Evan (Shaun Sipos), who has advocated radical measures be taken to make the world a better place. Bill has been building a bundle of arms and body armor for one mission -- to kill as many people as possible in a day.
I think the movie's main weakness is that it's too insular. We can never free ourselves from Bill Williamson's head (really, Boll? William Williamson? Are you even trying?). I understand that Boll tries to drop us into the psychosis of a seemingly ordinary 23-year-old burnout that snaps. To that end, Boll effectively fills the background with an mélange of chatter; short news radio bursts are strung together noting the ails of the global ails of the world. It feels like an actual peak into the anxiety-riddled skull of the main character. But this guy just isn't that interesting. We're never given any real insight into his thought process because Boll holds back whatever Bill really thinks until the very end, which means for the majority of the movie we're just watching a nut in body armor. A far majority of the movie is tagging along on Bill's killing spree, watching person after person gunned down. Is this entertainment and for whom?
Boll assembles a better thesis about what makes people grab guns and lash out than he did in 2003's school shooter rumpus, Heart of America, which also starred Fletcher as a chief bully. But that doesn't mean that the pieces fit together any better. Bill's rationale is that the world is overpopulated and could use a good pruning. So everybody goes. This is a pretty weak justification, especially when you consider that he's slaughtering the denizens of a SMALL TOWN who has plenty of room for growth. Will purposely goes out of his way to gun down the servers who irritated him the day before, thus he seeks vengeance not ideological purity. Boll at least switches spree motivations late into something a tad more consumerist, but by then it's too late. We need outside perspectives for this story to become more than a horror highlight reel of death. This movie could have worked from a Falling Down-esque narrative divided between the man on the rampage and the man in hot pursuit. That dynamic would provide for more thrills as well as a natural good guy and bad guy designation. But Boll doesn't want any such designation. He wants us to be uncomfortable from beginning to end, to empathize with Bill early on and become horrified about what this says about all of us. A radio broadcaster says, without a hint of irony: "I don't know how this could happen here or anywhere?" You're uncomfortable but not because of what Bill is doing. You never empathize with the guy because he's a loser and pretty hotheaded. It's because the movie is bereft of commentary that makes it uncomfortable because then the violence becomes celebratory.
Rampage is set in a small town for some sort of ham-handed message about the unpredictability of violence, but could something of this magnitude truly go down in today's technologically saturated world (for extra sledgehammer irony, the town is called Tenderville)? I will even give some leeway that a small town has a limited number of police officers and Bill blows up the police station as his first goal, but then where are all the neighboring cops? When we live in a world where everybody owns a cell phone, and every cell phone owner is an amateur journalist, it's somewhat preposterous that news of this magnitude would remain so isolated for so long. As soon as a crazy guy walked down the center of town and murdering everybody, you better believe that CNN would have some cell phone video up in a manner of minutes. Surely the barrage of 911 calls would have informed emergency technicians that the police station was bombed and the killer is still on the loose. Where are the neighboring communities' police officers? Where are the helicopters? In the age of information, nobody seems able to communicate anything. And why do people have trouble locking and barricading their doors? As Bill goes window-shopping for victims all the store doors remain unlocked, allowing him easy access to blow away customers. If Rampage was set in a violence-torn area that had become eerily accustomed to the sound of gunfire then perhaps people's initial indifference to gunfire could be explained. But remember, this is a small town for maximum intentional dramatic impact. They should be extremely responsive to the sound of continual gunfire. And these people should be packing too.
The scheme of Bill's coalesces in the last ten minutes of the movie, attempting to offer clarity and advance the material. Beware gentle reader, spoilers will follow, but you've already come this far. In the end, Bill has planned his killing spree with the intent of framing his only friend, Evan. Bill has made sure all his mail-order purchases were delivered to Evan's home, Evan is the one with the long YouTube rants about overpopulation and people standing up to make change, and Evan's father is a former radical from the 1960s who justified violence in the name of good causes. Of course we only learn that last bit in the film's closing seconds because why would something like that be relevant to know beforehand, right? Bill meets his buddy in the woods for their scheduled paintball date, tazes the bastard, then stuffs a gun in Evan's hand and has him pull the trigger to fulfill his role as patsy. The cops will think Evan has killed himself after being pursued into the woods. This is why Bill had to come back and brutally gun down an entire salon of women because he took his mask off and exposed his real face. Bill then disappears with the money.
As you expect, there are more holes to this plot than Swiss cheese. First off, there's a noticeable height difference between Evan and Bill (Fletcher is only 5'4" tall). Take into account different boot sizes, massive amounts of security camera footage, the registration for the cars that Bill turned into suicide bombs, the fact that the stolen bank money would now be marked, an autopsy report that would discover the stun gun wound and the awkward position for the self-inflicted gunshot wound, and the eye witnesses that must have seen Bill roaming around his neighborhood head-to-toe in his armor, never mind the fact that a massacre of this size practically guarantees the FBI's involvement, and you've got so many areas for this master plan to unravel. That's probably why Rampage ends with a post-script informing us Bill took off and has yet to be caught because somehow he's a criminal genius.
This is Fletcher's (Freddy vs. Jason, HBO's The Pacific) movie and he pretty much hides behind his character's literal and figurative mask. It's not too hard to glower and walk with purpose, which is what Bill does for most of the movie. He doesn't come across as overtly threatening, which is probably the point, but nor does Fletcher ever show insight into Bill's dark recesses. He just seems like an irritable child with guns who wants to settle some scores from a bruised ego. Fletcher has acting ability but his assimilation into the Boll Players should worry anybody who wants to see that ability again (four Boll films and counting). Curiously, Katherine Isabelle, the star of the clever teen-girl-werewolf Canadian horror series Ginger Snaps, has a near cameo appearance as one of the salon workers who gets murdered. Having an actress like her play such a small character with brief screen time seems bizarre. Maybe Fletcher, as the film's co-producer, called in a favor from his Freddy vs. Jason co-star.
Boll's direction pretty much gets swallowed whole by the void of his main character. Every decision seems made to suit some kind of allegorical message that never seems to materialize. The camerawork is self-consciously shaky; there's no reason a simple family conversation over the breakfast table should look like a 9.8 earthquake is going on simultaneously. The film also has the annoying habit of jumping forwards and backwards in time for split-second edits. I couldn't tell if these flash edits were mere foreshadowing peaks at what was to come, trying to sate a bloodthirsty audience getting antsy, or if they were small fantasies playing out inside Bill's head, showing his violent tendencies and delicate hold on reality. Well, they were just previews for the main attraction, which makes their use hard to fathom. If Boll wanted an audience to be shocked by what was to come, why give them previews? The film would have worked better without the non-linear quirks. Boll makes sure his camera is never far away from Bill, and during stretches the camera is pinned on Bill's face as he huffs and puffs and kills people off screen. It's Boll's one somewhat interesting moment of artistic restraint. Boll is improving as an action director in certain regards. Rampage has some nice stunt work and some pretty well executed explosions.
Don't believe the steady stream of good press for Rampage. I never thought I'd have an opportunity to write these words ... but Rampage does not live up to the hype. It is not Boll's first successful movie; I'd argue that his Vietnam movie Tunnel Rats came much closer to being a good and entertaining movie. Rampage is a rather empty vehicle to watch innocents get massacred. It lacks subtext and commentary, so the violence becomes gratuitous and meaningless, which is much more uncomfortable than anything Boll intends with his narrative. Obviously, Boll has modeled his story after recent incidents like the Virginia Tech gunman in 2007. Sadly, there is no shortage of crazed gunman stories in the news to pick from. If Boll attempted to squeeze some subtext into the various proceedings, satirizing the sensationalistic media turning people into fragile, potentially-lethal time bombs, or perhaps even the allure of fame through whatever costs, even the most infamous, then maybe watching countless people get shot would at least offer some meaning. I wasn't expecting a Funny Games dissection level of violence and voyeurism and the participation of the viewer, but I expected more than watching a dude in a suit of armor kill fleeing civilians for an hour. If that's your idea of entertainment than perhaps you should go play a video game that rewards such behavior. Don't worry; it's only a matter of time before Boll transforms that into a movie next.
Nate's Grade: C-
These are the words I thought of when I saw this film. However, there are some things one must take into considration before seeing it. Yes, our favorite German lunkhead Uwe Boll wrote, directed, and produced this movie. And yes, most of the dialogue is improvised, meaning that Boll can hardly take credit for writing the script. However, at the same time, it is also his best film to date (it is also, coincidentally, his fist film in many, many years not based on a video game. Coincidence?). It manages to send a political message through its nonstop orgy of violence, though this message will be a bit too overt for some. So, while one shouldn't click the "Play" button on Netflix with the expectation of anything more than a massacre film (that is now a new subgenre, apparently. Thank Mr. Boll for this), you will be surprised to see just what this man has learned over two decades of filmmaking.
It's basically a B Movie rip-off of Taxi Driver without any explanation for why the main character goes insane nor any justification (either moral or psychological) for his homicidal actions. 37/100
Overall I enjoyed this film and the ending was good.
PROS: The rampage, the end
CONS: The beginning