Movies · Reviews

Fantastic Fest Review: Uwe Boll’s Rampage

By  · Published on October 1st, 2009

In his long filmmaking career, Uwe Boll has done many things. And in the eyes of many movie fans around the world, one of them is not making a good film. And with his latest opus, the wanton violence-heavy shoot ’em up Rampage, Boll still probably won’t have any of those folks convinced that he’s anything more than they already think him to be. But for the second time in his career, he’s made a film that is sick, violent and fun – for the second time, he’s made a film that I have enjoyed.

Rampage follows the story of Bill (Brendan Fletcher), a suburban white kid who is frustrated with the world around him. As a means to an end, he decides to launch an intricate plan to murder hundreds of people in his small town and cause all sorts of mayhem. This involves dressing up in an armored suit and buying a bunch of automatic weapons off of the internet. And while there’s a bit more to Bill’s plan than that – including a “killer” twist at the end – that’s about it.

The whole reason for this movie’s existence is to display wanton violence on screen – because Uwe Boll wants to put that sort of thing right in front of you and force you to deal with it. He’s an idiot savant that way. He doesn’t know it, but Boll has made a film that forces us to deal with a violent individual who is frighteningly motive-free. In fact, Rampage runs into the most trouble when it tries to explain why Bill ends up killing everyone in sight. At one point, Boll uses a series of radio voices – many of which are of the extremist political variety – to show us that Bill is being subjected to the problems of a world gone mad, a world that needs badly to be cleaned of the evils that plagued it.

And all that is crap – too much thought put into a movie that ultimately succeeds on some intense, visceral action sequences. When Bill finally goes nuts some 30 minutes into the movie, Boll unleashes a feverish pace of action and civilian slaughter. It is likely his best work as an action director – there’s nothing cheese-ball about it, nothing silly and nothing that looks lo-fi. It is a hardcore bit of action, and I loved every minute of it. And there are great breaks, including one creepy scene in which Bill walks into a bingo hall full of old folks. Having just watched him mow-down anyone and everyone on the street, we watch as he walks around in between the bingo tables, completely invisible to the old folks hoping for B-22. It is quite possibly the most tense and clever few moments that Boll has ever committed to film.

That said, this is not exactly a film for everyone. But as I explained earlier, it doesn’t seem as if Boll cares one bit. The mostly improvised dialog is clunky, the characters are hollow archetypes of ideologues and as I said, there’s too much thought put into the driving force behind Bill’s rampage. But a charismatic performance from Brendan Fletcher and some impressive, twisted action, combine to make for Boll’s most impressive (and most fun) work to date. I know that isn’t saying much, but it’s certainly something.

The Upside: Tons of killing, tons of bullets, tons of at times and a great sequence in a bingo hall.

The Downside: Too much thought put into the “why” of the main character’s rampage.

On the Side: During the Q&A after the film, Uwe Boll said that the big police station explosion was a $350,000 shot. Also, he said that if he were given $100 million dollars to make a movie, he’d still make one that would force people to walk out.

Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)