As soon as he appears onscreen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's "Agent Russell" is established as a mysterious government agent from an undisclosed secret apparatus who can act extrajudiciously however he sees fit with unfettered access to government records and surveillance. He threatens and belittles our protagonists in a bizarre southern drawl with a viper-like smile that hides his true intentions... and then The Rock (I'm sorry, Dwayne Johnson as "Chief Primatologist Davis Okoye") decides that he MUST save his life during a Gorilla-induced plane crash and they immediately become BFFs. I mean, I'm sure there's some good people working in the intelligence community, but in today's day and age how did the asshole from the government who fucks with people with no oversight become the Krillin of this story? I get it though, it's not about politics, it's about making sure that a guy with a pistol sticking out of his pants and a thick Texan accent respects The Rock, and that being an asshole is cool as long as you're a cool asshole.
About halfway through the movie we learn that Davis had been deployed to countless combat missions while serving in the military and was eventually transferred to Africa on some kind of anti-poaching duty (I tried searching for any real-life basis for the Marines' "Gorillla Protection Unit" but could not find anything). In a monologue he admits to killing the poachers who had orphaned George (in self defense, the good kind of killing). Feeling sympathy for the animal, The Rock took George back to America where he taught him how to sign and the two formed a lasting bond, one that transcends the line between beast and trainer. They are two friends who have both been hurt by humanity's capacity for cruelty, trying to live with quiet dignity apart from the world that left them scarred...
Ok that's beautiful but at what point in the story did The Rock actually get a Bachelor's Degree in zoology, a Master's degree and/or Ph.D, and put in the years of field research, lab research training, and internships it takes to even get an entry-level position in this field, let alone the top position at one of the most famous and high-profile gorilla attractions in the world!? I'll even throw the movie a bone and say that there could have been a 15-year gap between the beginning of the Afghanistan War and modern day where maybe The Rock went full-ham on climbing the wildlife biology ladder, but have you even MET grad students? There's no way he'd still be jacked after all those late night cram sessions eating ramen for dinner, operating on 3 hours of sleep. Giant flying wolf? Sure. The Rock as a head scientist? I SAY THEE NAY.
There is a quite a bit of worldbuilding in Rampage to help get us from "the world as we know it" to "a world where it's possible for a Crocodile the size of an apartment building to wild out in downtown Chicago". The key actor that sets the plot in motion is the nefarious Energyne corporation, who have invested so heavily in their "Project Rampage" that they are willing to obstruct justice, acquire PMCs for their own personal usage, and even build a private space station in order to see the project to completion. The corporation takes massive losses in funding and liability, but our villains continually claim that it will all be worth it, because governments and militaries will pay a fortune for "Project Rampage". Except, you know what governments ACTUALLY pay billions for? It's not swole apes, it's Long Range Strike Bombers, logistical support and cyber security. The idea that the future of warfare is "ravenous murder wolves" and not "drones that work even on cloudy days" is genuinely hilarious. I'm trying to think of a MORE impractical military expenditure and even "life-sized Pacific Rim Jaegers" is still a more reasonable weapons system.
The geography of this movie is also pretty fascinating, as each monster starts in very disparate locations (Southern California, Northern Oregon Wyoming, and the Florida Everglades) but then they all make their way to Chicago's famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. What we don't get to see is how these majestic beasts made their way across the continental United States on their way to the Windy City. Did Ralph befriend a small town outcast who never fit in at school? Did George make sweet love to any of the Paul Bunyon statues that litter America's lumber centers? Many boat owners across the world dream of completing America's "Great Loop" that allows people to travel from the ocean to the great lakes through inland routes, and Lizzie does it in only a couple of days? IMAGINE THE STORIES. Three unlikely tourists making their way across the country, touching hearts, changing lives, and crushing entire families as they scream helplessly in their Ford Windstars.
It's often been a running joke that in a post Governor Schwarzenegger and President Trump world, there's literally no reason why The Rock COULDN'T be the Commander-in-Chief if he wanted the job. He's photogenic and honed his public speaking skills for decades on the wrestling circuit (where having quick wits and speaking with authority are what pays the bills). Not only that, but he speaks often about how he grew up in an impoverished household (hence the titular "7 Bucks" of his production company's name) and had to move from town to town as a kid due to his dad's wrestling career, giving him a sympathetic backstory and "roots" in several parts of the country.
Watching Rampage with this is mind is fascinating, considering how his character interacts with those around him. He's a veteran who shows deference to the authority of the military and the government (but still cracks wise about how nobody likes MPs), he's a respectful gentleman who values his female co-star but also is a watchful protector when it comes to her safety, and while he is responsible and competent, he loves laughing at George's crude Gorilla jokes like a regular guy. It's a perfect storm of what it means to be masculine in 2018, where he doesn't cry when he thinks his friend is dead, but he'll let out one hell of a manly scream while he empties a chaingun into a monster's skull. The Rock isn't the president we deserve, he's the one we've been begging for without even realizing it. Also both Reagan and Trump appeared in movies with a primate in them (Bedtime for Bonzo and The Little Rascals, respectively), so The Rock had to make sure he had that base covered.
Once the players are all set in motion, we learn that the evil Energyne corporation has secretly developed a CURE for the Rampage pathogen that will cure George and hopefully end the destruction that has befallen Chicago. But then we learn that we had been deceived, the so called "cure" won't return the animals to their proper size, merely halt the heightened aggression that seized organisms affected by the gene editing. Which is great if you need a last-minute face-turn for the big gorilla on all your movie posters, but as an actual "cure" it's weirdly terrible. If you had the technology to create unkillable SUPER-ORGANISMS without having them be filled with indiscriminate killing instincts, isn't that WAY BETTER for whatever conceivable purposes you'd need them for? Police and military units have used trained animals since domestication was feasible. Everything from war horses to bomb-sniffing dogs were valuable for humanity BECAUSE they could be trained and didn't devour everyone within chomping-distance. The idea that the "cure" for giant living weapons still involved "leaving giant wild animals running around" is silliest thing in this very very silly movie.