WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Brad Peyton’s Rampage, in theaters now.
Dwayne Johnson has helped to revive yet another forgotten franchise with the adaptation of the classic 1980s arcade game Rampage. His frequent collaborator Brad Peyton (San Andreas, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) directed this film, but Johnson is the reason it was greenlit. As a fan of the 1986 game, Johnson had a vested interest in seeing some of its distinct elements make it onto the big screen.
An arcade classic, Rampage is pretty straightforward, with players controlling one of three giant monsters, who destroy buildings while attempting not to be stopped by the military. Once all the skyscrapers in a city have been leveled, you move onto the next one. When computers and consoles invaded homes, Rampage was ported for almost every system at the time, including NES, Sega Master System, Atari 2600 and Commodore 64.
There have been Rampage sequels and reboots, with the most recent, Rampage: Total Destruction, released in 2006. With each installment new monsters were introduced, and the gameplay tended to improve drastically. Other than the three main monsters (George, Lizzie and Ralph), a character you can find in every version of the game is “the lady in the red dress.” A gargantuan ape, George is of course based on King Kong. So, as a sly joke, game developers made it so that only George can grab women out of the buildings. And when he does, he puts them down gently and receives a huge point bonus. Likewise, Lizzie is the only one that can save the men in yellow shirts, while Ralph is the businessman’s only hope. In every other Rampage game, any playable monster can grab “the woman in the red dress” and eat her. Furthermore, in Rampage: Total Destruction, when a monster throws her in their mouth, she exclaims, “How dare you!”
The film's most clever homage to the arcade game arrives toward the end, when Malin Akerman’s character, Energyne CEO Claire Wyden, tries to evacuate her company's Chicago headquarters. Wearing a red dress (hint, hint), Wyden makes it to the roof to board her waiting helicopter, but finds George there, attempting to destroy the homing signal that has drawn him, Ralph and Lizzie to the city. Davis Okoye (Johnson) and Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomi Harris) figure out how to administer a dose of R19, aka “the Chill Pill,” to George.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to guess what happens next: Caldwell slips the R19 canister into Wyden’s handbag just before an enraged George picks her up and eats her. Considering the callous and cold-blooded attitude of the character, it is a satisfying moment.
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.