Ginger Nuts of Horror
It's not even our usual time of the week, but we've never been shy of serving up a few extra treats here at Film Gutter, so it's time for not one but two bonus reviews! We were delighted to have the chance recently to chat with controversial and outspoken director Uwe Boll, who has just concluded shooting on his last movie before retirement, Rampage: No Mercy. The story of Boll's career is fascinating, but I'll let his words speak for that rather than mine. No Mercy is the final movie in the Rampage trilogy, so in preparation for that release we decided to spend some time looking at the first two films in the series. Although they are separated by five years, they share an awful lot thematically and each star Brendan Fletcher as Bill Williamson, who portrays the politically motivated mass murderer brilliantly in both movies – his performances really drive both movies and he's an absolutely compelling lead throughout.
follows Bill as a young man, still living with his parents and being very disenfranchised with life. His parents are putting gentle pressure on him to get a job and consider moving out, but Bill's unhappiness reaches much further than they can imagine. He's deeply discontented with the world around him, the divisive political system, the gulf between classes and capitalism on the whole. And what's more, he's not afraid to act on it. In fact, he's been preparing to act on it for some time...
One of the things I loved in this movie is the presentation – many scenes are undercut with news reports of war, crime and stories about the injustices of the world. It provides a well-crafted backdrop to Bill's boiling frustration, and gives great context to what he's about to do. Yes, there's a lot of violence in the movie, but the whole thing is seeded and built towards well. This is a man acting out against a system that to him is inherently wrong – what's more in question is the approach he takes. Because Bill is on the path to becoming America's biggest mass murderer – he sets out as an armour-clad, heavily armed angel of death, shooting down practically anyone who stumbles across his path. He's absolutely cold-blooded, psychopathic and calculating as he massacres people in the streets and in restaurants – but not in the bingo hall, which is a wonderful scene, with people so engrossed in the game they barely notice the killer in their midst.
Of course it's not long until the police and the authorities are on his tail, but Bill is more than prepared for that – and he's even got a strategy to get away with it all, an exit plan that will enable him to continue on his path of destruction...
Five years have passed between the events of Rampage and Rampage: Capital Punishment, and we join Bill hiding out anonymously whilst also being a kind of internet celebrity, an infamous cult hero to many malcontents and troubled individuals, crusaders against the corrupt system they live in. This sequel captures Bill's attempt to mobilise the masses against their oppressors – the political message that had been more understated in the original is far more overt here, and Bill's rant that begins the movie is absolutely epic – a proper joy to watch. To get his message out more widely than ever, Bill hijacks a television station to present his video and then have an exclusive interview with the news anchor based there, also well played by Lochlyn Munro – there's a great chemistry between his character Chip Parker and Bill Williamson throughout. This one has stacks of tension as well, possibly even more so than the first movie – the victims of the siege are under constant threat from Bill, and you simply never know what the unpredictable lead is going to do.
This one is a really interesting follow-up, but for me the message here lives a bit too much 'on the surface' – while Brendan Fletcher's performance is hugely committed again, at times the movie begins to feel a bit preachy. However I was still fascinated as to where the third movie would head – will Bill still be a lone warrior fighting the system, or will he be joined by an army of his followers for the conclusion to the series. I gather that the action will definitely be bigger and grander for the finale, so it should be something special to behold when it hits in the summer.
RATINGS: Rampage for me is the higher scorer of the two, with a better set-up, some clever sound and visual devices and a truly transformative journey for Bill Williamson from unsettled young man to infamous mass murderer – so the opening movie clocks in for me at 8/10. Capital Punishment takes a lot of those themes and carries them a touch further – perhaps a bit too far in places. However, Fletcher is possibly even more intense and unnerving in this second movie, and so much of his interaction with those around him positively crackled with tension, so there was plenty to like again here, so it's a 7/10 for the middle part of the trilogy.
We'll be sure to review the concluding part right here at Film Gutter upon its release, and be sure to check out our interview with Uwe Boll right here at Ginger Nuts of Horror!