I spent most of this past weekend catching up on my Instant Queue on Netflix, and the movie Rampage was on the list. I wasn’t expecting much – it’s a…no sorry…AN Uwe Boll film (the credits use “an” instead of “a”). However, other than this little amusing error, the rest of the film, which I expected to be about as bad as Bloodrayne or maybe as interesting as In The Name of the King (which was also terrible, but at least watchable), was actually very good.
Despite sharing a name with a video game (one of my favorites from the late 80s), this is NOT an adaptation. It’s an original film both written and directed by Boll. The movie follows Bill, a young man who is pretty much a stereotypical new millennium loser. He’s 23, lives with his parents, has a crappy job, one friend who is also a loser, and neither the drive nor ambition to do much of anything. Or so it seems. Bill actually does have an ambition – he and his friend Evan have discussed how many of the world’s problems come from over population. Bill wants to cure that problem.
After a really bad day where his parents (his father is played by the always awesome Matt Frewer) tell him they want him to move out, the coffee shop guy screws up his order, his boss demeans him, and a waitress dumps food all over him, Bill has had enough. The next day he dons a suit of armor he’s made, complete with tactical helmet, mask, kevlar and metal plates, loads up his guns, and begins the titular rampage through town.
Bill starts by blowing up the police station with a remote control van loaded with homemade explosives. He then goes around town basically at random shooting people. There are some really good scenes here, such as when he goes into a beauty parlor to get a drink of water (the suit is very hot), and takes off his helmet. It appears he’s going to let the ladies live, but then returns and shoots them all. Another good scene is when he enters a large bingo hall and no one takes any notice. He gets some food and an iced tea, sits with his guns on a table, and it’s not till he makes a scene with the bingo balls that people even acknowledge his presence. He doesn’t kill anyone in the bingo hall, leaving them be for reasons unknown.
Bill eventually robs a bank, killing a number of folks in the process. He pulls a fast one and burns a bunch of fake money he printed earlier to convince the survivors in the bank that he was trying to show them that money doesn’t matter. He then kills some sheriff deputies with another bomb and finally kills the sheriff himself with a knife to the kidneys. He then meets Evan, who has been waiting to play paintball. He uses a stun gun on Evan, makes it appear that he’s committed suicide and dresses him in the armored suit and leaves the guns. He takes the money, burns his remaining clothes, and returns home where his parents find him watching the news report.
In the end, Bill loads the money and some clothes in a suitcase and leaves after Evan’s father is shown on TV being arrested – he was a 60’s radical and the police believe Evan was behind the entire rampage. The movie ends with Bill making a video statement that he will continue to help the world by reducing the population.
You really get a chance to crawl around inside this kid’s head during the movie. It’s filmed in “shaky cam”, but unlike some movies, it works here. Bill is somewhat conflicted as he begins his deadly slaughter, but there’s a weird unreal quality to what he’s doing. When he has to stop and reload before shooting a woman, he says to her in a friendly tone, “wow, scary shit, huh?” and then kills her with no remorse. Conversely, in the beauty parlor, it’s clear he doesn’t want to kill the women, but he has to because they saw his face.
Perhaps the biggest impression I got from the movie was, throughout the whole thing you assumed Bill was basically a loser, a slacker, and that he had no real plan other than to cause a lot of damage and then go out in a blaze of glory. It certainly fits what we know of the typical crazy gunman scenario. But Bill isn’t stupid, he’s not really crazy, or at least not so insane he doesn’t have a plan. In fact, everything is planned out, from getting Evan to the woods for paintball to having all of the stuff for the suit sent to Evan’s house instead of his own. Bill has been planning this for a long time. In the end, he wins; he achieves his goal of reducing the population, he has a lot of money, and he’s pinned everything on Evan. He’s not a loser, he’s just playing a completely different game than the rest of us.
The other thing I was left thinking after watching this movie was…how the fuck did Uwe Boll make this? This movie makes you think. It’s got good dialog. It’s filmed well. There are no stupid cameos by big name stars in pathetically written roles. This film looks and feels like one of those indie-films people talk about and then major studios buy them up, remake or just re-release them and ruin the whole message. It’s actually really good. It’s not amazing, but it’s good. It’s really good. I don’t know if Boll got new medication or someone just knocked some sense into him, but if he makes more films like this, people might actually believe he’s something other than the “German Ed Wood.”
Watch this film – it’s on Netflix and was also released direct to video. It’s worth watching. Really. No, I mean it. It’s also a good joke to play on a friend…start it up, watch their reaction when they see it’s AN Uwe Boll film, and then watch as they realize it doesn’t suck.