WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Brad Peyton’s Rampage, in theaters now.
Director Brad Peyton and action star Dwayne Johnson are back together for their third collaboration, Rampage, a loose adaptation of the 1986 arcade game of the same name. The film boasts big-budget special effects and an A-list cast, but it’s Johnson's charm and charisma that make this movie worth watching. Even when there are giant-size animal on screen, the amiable actor can command the audience's attention.
At this point in his career, Johnson is aware of his worth, and the pull he has in Hollywood. He’s not the type to throw around his weight, but he also doesn’t get pushed around by studios. His fan base expect plenty of action and humor from his projects, and so, he feels a responsibility to deliver. Even more so, he wants the audience to leave the theater feeling good.
Johnson used to pump quarters into the Rampage arcade game as a kid, so he was gung-ho to star in the film adaptation. The only problem was that the script had one major plot point that didn't sit right with him: George died in the original draft. Considering the time spent developing the relationship between Johnson’s character Davis Okoye and the albino ape, and what they overcome together, the star didn’t want to end the film on a down note.
The story goes that Okoye saved George from poachers in Rwanda and raised him at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary. So, when the ape is transformed by an experimental pathogen into a raging behemoth, Okoye doesn't see him as a monster like everyone else does. Throughout the film he fights to save his friend from the various government agencies trying to stop him. When he manages to calm his simian pal, they team up against the other monsters, Lizzie and Ralph.
Lizzie is a good bit larger than George, and has no trouble sending him careening into a building. The broken structure has a large rod protruding from it that skewers the poor primate through the chest. George is able to pull himself off the strut and then uses it to stab Lizzie through the eye. Once he’s sure the giant crocodile is dead, he stumbles off and collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing, and Okoye believes he has passed … but then he perks up and signs that he was only playing dead. That's a callback to the ape’s dark sense of humor exhibited at the beginning of the film.
So, just to be clear, in the original version of the script, George does not wake from his dirt nap. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Johnson explained, “I don’t like a sad ending.”
“Life brings that shit -- I don’t want it in my movies," he continued. "When the credits roll, I want to feel great.” The ending became such a point of contention that Johnson threatened to walk away from Rampage to save George.
In theaters Friday nationwide, director Brad Peyton’s Rampage stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Joe Manganiello, Jake Lacy, Marley Shelton and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.