For a re­view of “Ram­page,”

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Dwayne John­son has be­come a genre unto him­self. Out­fit the hulk­ing for­mer WWE star in a pair of cargo pants and a snug hen­ley tee, and throw him into any ex­treme sit­u­a­tion— jun­gle-based video game, die­sel­fu­eled car stun­tery, beach crimes, fight­ing an earth­quake, star­ring across Kevin Hart— and it just works. So pair­ing John­son with a gi­ant al­bino go­rilla in the video game adap­ta­tion “Ram­page” feels right. The tagline reads “big meets big­ger,” and that’s about all you need to know. John­son, who usu­ally dwarfs his co- stars, this time gets to feel small. It’s big all right— big, dumb fun.

Di­rected by Brad Pey­ton, who has wreaked cin­e­matic havoc around John­son in “San An­dreas” and “Jour­ney 2: The Mys­te­ri­ous Is­land,” “Ram­page” ex­pands the nar­ra­tive of the retro game, which in­volved a gi­ant go­rilla, wolf and croc­o­dile crunch­ing sky­scrapers into dust. In this it­er­a­tion, writ­ers Ryan En­gle, Carl­ton Cuse, Ryan J. Con­dal and Adam Sz­tykiel have an­thro­po­mor­phized the go­rilla, who is now named Ge­orge ( played by mo­tion- cap­ture ac­tor Ja­son Liles), the best friend of Davis Okoye ( John­son), a pri­ma­tol­o­gist with a back­ground in the Army Spe­cial Forces and anti- poach­ing ac­tivism, nat­u­rally. He runs the wildlife sanc­tu­ary in San Diego, where Ge­orge makes hishome.

When a space­craft car­ry­ing re­search sam­ples from a shady cor­po­rate gene- edit­ing ex­per­i­ment ex­plodes in the at­mos­phere — Mar­ley Shel­ton ap­pears in this de­light­fully bonkers riff on “Alien,” with a gi­ant space rat— scat­ter­ing its tainted shrap­nel across the U. S., Ge­orge, a wolf and a croc­o­dile are in­fected with the stuff. It causes them to grow to an enor­mous size, act out ag­gres­sively and take on the ge­netic qual­i­ties of other an­i­mals, like rapid cell re­gen­er­a­tion, or ex­plod­ing por­cu­pine quills, or, you know, fly­ing.

Hop­ing to save his friend, Davis links up with a dis­graced ge­netic sci­en­tist, Kate ( Naomie Har­ris), and barges right into the mid­dle of the op­er­a­tion to take down these mon­sters that are threat­en­ing to level Chicago, Godzilla- style.

This is a B- movie mon­ster flick star­ring quite pos­si­bly the big­gest movie star ( or at least the most prof­itable) in the world, and “Ram­page” knows ex­actly what it is. It doesn’t try to be any­thing other than that. It has a de­cid­edly 1990s feel, self- aware, quippy, loaded with archetypes.

The script smashes through rapid- fire char­ac­ter in­tro­duc­tions, each big­ger and broader than the last. Malin Ak­er­man and Jake Lacy are a pair of hi­lar­i­ous vil­lains, the sneer­ingly evil sib­ling cor­po­rate big­wigs. But it’s Jef­frey Dean Mor­gan, in fine fet­tle, who does as much struc­tural dam­age as the mon­sters do, chew­ing the scenery as a swag­ger­ing cow­boy of a govern­ment agent, re­plete with pearl- han­dled pis­tol on his hip. He rel­ishes ev­ery sweet, honey- ac­cented line de­liv­ery, but he too, is even up­staged, by the Su­perCroc, who makes pos­si­bly the most mem­o­rable en­trance of the year.

All these char­ac­ters make for a movie that never slows down, but among all the may­hem, John­son is com­pletely lost. He doesn’t get a chance to truly show his com­edy chops or act­ing skill, and his char­ac­ter is the least de­vel­oped. He is, in fact, dwarfed by Ge­orge, and ev­ery other hammy per­for­mance on screen, his pres­ence shock­ingly over­shad­owed, his usu­ally ra­dioac­tive charisma dimmed. Asa stu­pe­fy­ingly silly throw­back mon­ster movie, “Ram­page” romps, but as a John­son ve­hi­cle, sadly, it flops.

“Ram­page,” a Warner Bros. re­lease, is rated PG- 13 for se­quences of vi­o­lence, ac­tion and de­struc­tion, brief lan­guage, and crude ges­tures. Run­ning time: 107 min­utes.★★

“Borg vs. McEn­roe”

The sport of ten­nis is in­her­ently dra­matic, at once med­i­ta­tive and ex­plo­sive, a study in in­di­vid­ual strug­gle and tri­umph. Per­son­al­ity tics and habits un­der ex­treme pres­sure and stress are laid bare for the whole world to in­spect, with all eyes fo­cused on the court. The ri­valry of Björn Borg and John McEn­roe, which came to a head at the 1980Wim­ble­don fi­nal, pit­ted per­fec­tion against pas­sion and cap­ti­vated the world. Janus Metz’s film, “Borg vs. McEn­roe,” fol­low­ing the events lead­ing up to the match, takes the clash of the ten­nis ti­tans to op­er­atic new heights.

The ri­valry be­tween the two play­ers made for splashy, fun tabloid fod­der, but Metz, with writer Ron­nie San­dahl, has given the story an in­tensely dra­matic, psy­cho­log­i­cal treat­ment. The the­sis of the film is that for all of the ways in which Borg ( Sver­rir Gud­na­son) and McEn­roe ( Shia LaBeouf) were po­lar op­po­sites — the me­thod­i­cal and con­trolled Swedish “Ice Borg,” and the fiery, hot-tem­pered New “Su­perb rat ”— they were far more alike than dif­fer­ent.

San­dahl’s script ex­plores the child­hood cir­cum­stances that shaped the play­ers, but dives deeply into Borg’s back­ground fo­cus. as a young ten­nis LaBeouf is per­fectly cast phe­nom in Swe­den ( played as the brash, trash- talk­ing by Borg’s real son, Leo, him­self McEn­roe, which is a role per­fectly a ten­nis player, who suited to his lov­able gives a star­tlingly great per­for­mance loud­mouth skillset ( honed on in his de­but role). the Dis­ney Chan­nel show He made waves in youth “Even Stevens”). Although it leagues with his own tantrums sits right in his wheel­house, — highly frowned LaBeouf makes it a thought­ful upon in this “gen­tle­man’s and lived- in per­for­mance, sport”— but his en­ergy and not just a car­i­ca­ture. drive to win were in­dis­putable, Although this is a film largely and soon he was about Borg, LaBeouf as plucked out of a sus­pen­sion McEn­roe just about steals it. to be groomed as one of the But Swedish ac­tor Gud­na­son greats by his coach, Len­nart main­tains a firmhold on Bergelin ( Stel­lan Skars­gard). the nar­ra­tive as the al­most As a coach, Bergelin stoked im­pos­si­bly stoic Borg, grip­ping Borg’s fire, then closed down his lips in a tight, slight the valve, forc­ing the young smile, fear in his eyes as he’s player to chan­nel ev­ery mobbed by ador­ing fans, only ounce of emo­tion and pain al­low­ing him­self to break into his game. As one com­peti­tor down in pri­vate. It’s the far de­scribes it, play­ing sub­tler and far more dif­fi­cult against him is like be­ing hit per­for­mance, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with a sledge­ham­mer. so much with such a lim­ited

McEn­roe, on the other range, as Borg’s emo­tions are hand, is the stiletto, laser sharp clamped down to serve his shots masked by his ath­letic per­for­mance. out­size per­son­al­ity, leav­ing Metz shoots the ten­nis com­peti­tors slashed with­out ac­tion with an in­ti­mate im­me­di­acy even re­al­iz­ing what hap­pened. that places you on the His blowups gar­nered court with the greats. Their him the rebel rep­u­ta­tion, so ag­o­niz­ingly long tiebreaker is dif­fer­ent from the icy cool the kind of stuff that makes Borg, but Borg sees some­thing one fall in love­with the Shake­speare and rama that fa­mil­iar in McEn­roe. is ten­nis. Through all the chaos, he rec­og­nizes

In other mo­ments, Metz takes a bird’s eye view, widen­ing out for over­head shots that ab­stract the game in graphic com­po­si­tions: the white- clad fig­ure mov­ing within the white lines of the court, the in­di­vid­ual in space.

The edit­ing zips like the zing­ing shots the play­ers whip back and forth, and the well­paced sports film be­comes al­most a psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller of sorts. Will Borg ever break? Will McEn­roe ever pull it to­gether? This char­ac­ter study of the two men links them to­gether in their bat­tle, work­ing with and against each other, and be­com­ing for­ever bonded in the process. “Borg vs. McEn­roe” be­comes an in­deli­ble por­trait of these men and their un­likely, in­ef­fa­ble and ul­ti­mately, deeply emo­tional bond.

“Borg vs. Mcen­roe,” a Neon re­lease, is rated R for lan­guage through­out, and some nu­dity. Run­ning time: 107 min­utes. ★★★ ½


Shia LaBeouf, left, por­trays John McEn­roe, and Sver­rir Gud­na­son is Bjorn Borg in “Borg vs McEn­roe.”

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