Rampage: President Down full movie review - "Rampage: President Down"- Uwe Boll's final film is appropriately both one of his most ambitious works... and also one of his messiest. Still, it's a watchable finale.
I admire Uwe Boll. Honestly. The man loves his job... he loves making movies. And despite the constant (and well-deserved) backlash he received throughout the great majority of his career, he never stopped doing what he loved.
So I gotta give the man some major respect. He might have made terrible films, and he might have been a bit... overly "abrasive" and "passionate" when things didn't go his way, but he struggled and fought to do what he wanted. And that's more than many can say.
In some ways, it seems all too appropriate for Boll's (alleged) final film to also be the concluding chapter in his genuinely popular "Rampage" trilogy. Since the release of the original film back in 2009, this particular trilogy seemed to be the thing that kept Boll completely and utterly invested in his career as a film director. You can tell that they are perhaps his most personal work and that he's actually putting his heart and soul into their creation. And you get a sense that anything else he's made since 2009 has only been side-projects that he worked on out of obligation.
In a strangely subdued narrative in comparison to the trilogy as a whole, we again follow Bill Williamson (played wonderfully by co- writer Brendan Fletcher) as he struggles with the ramifications of his previous "rampages"- most notably his recent assassination of the President of the United States. Williamson is now a father of an infant son, and he worries that his message is being lost by a media that is more focused on his body-count than on his attempts at delivering a misguided message. As the authorities try to crack down on him and take him out once and for all, Bill prepares himself for what might just be his final rampage... Desperately hoping that his philosophies will finally get through to the public once and for all.
I wasn't a massive fan of the original film, but I did find it one of Boll's more palatable works and also one of his most stylish. It was a decent enough movie about a man pushed to the brink and lashing out against a society that he feels increasingly oppressed by. However, I found the second installment ("Capital Punishment") to be a preachy mess that was far too in love with its own flawed ideals to really function properly in any capacity. It's musings and ideologies were half-baked and self-aggrandizing nonsense, and it became too obviously a shallow attempt to appeal to the teenaged and 20-something wannabe armchair- revolutionaries that have been popping up more and more recently. Thankfully, I think "President Down" improves on the second chapter and probably sits just below the original. If you enjoyed the first film, I can't imagine you'd be disappointed by its concluding chapter.
Star Brendan Fletcher is the main draw for this final chapter, and he's giving it his absolute best shot. I've always really enjoyed Fletcher as a performer, and it's really a shame that he's not more widely recognized and is constantly saddled in low- budget B-movie roles- the guy can act his heart out and has a lot of appeal. I also feel Fletcher's contributions to the writing are invaluable, given his insight into the character of Bill Williamson. It was also quite clever for the film to spend more time with Bill as a person first and a "terrorist" second. It gave the film more of an emotional impact... something that was desperately lacking in the previous installment. You actually do kind of care about Bill this time around, psychotic thought he may be. It's quite ambitious, being Boll's most character- intensive work to date.
Unfortunately, the film suffers for Boll's continued wonky direction, his obsession with the shaky "morals" on display and a cripplingly low budget. Boll is one of those directors... he seems to understand the "language" of film and can wrap his head around what works and doesn't work on a technical level. But he doesn't seem to grasp how to use this knowledge to put together a scene. And thus, the film comes off as amateurish as ever from a directorial standpoint. Much like many of his recent film, he relies on shaky-cam style camera-work to a fault, and seems afraid to let any shot go on for more than a few seconds, which gets distracting far too often. His sense of story structure is also pretty suspect, as is his continued insistence to try and elevate the film into something more than it is. You can tell Boll thinks the movie is an important piece of fiction. And he relishes in letting Bill expound ridiculous amounts of preaching dialog warning of the dangers of the social and political institutions at play. But it's all common knowledge for anyone with half a brain. And given that this is the same film series where Bill executed a woman over yoga of all things in the second entry, it comes off as flat and "false." You can't take it seriously. And good lord, do the budget cuts show on-screen. The film is laughably cheap-looking, with the majority of sequences taking place in the same three or four small, cramped rooms and the big, titular "rampage" being a mere portion of what was on-display in the other installments.
Still, I do think that the ambition on display with the honest attempts at character development and the powerhouse performance by Brendan Fletcher make it worth it a go if you were a fan of the previous films. It might not quite measure up to the depraved insanity of the original, but it's at least watchable and serves as an appropriate cap to the trilogy. And for film buffs, it's worth seeing as the supposed final film from one of cinema's most infamous figures. Part of me will miss you, Boll.
I give "Rampage: President Down" a sub-par but watchable 4 out of 10.