Chicago has taken some knocks in recent years. First the Decepticons gave it a beating in the 2011 movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon; then, three years later, Divergent had its shot. Now, perhaps, the most arresting flick of them all has arrived in the Windy City: Rampage.
Based on the 1986 videogame of the same name, which was also developed in Chicago, the film follows the cross-country mayhem of a giant mutated wolf, alligator and gorilla hell-bent on wreaking as much havoc as possible, before culminating in an epic showdown in downtown Chicago.
It’s the perfect setting for a final battle. It’s also a perfect way for visitors to check out Chicago’s masterpiece skyscrapers and other sights which have made this one of the most iconic skylines in the US.
See if you can spot a few of these landmarks along the way.
From the Willis Tower’s 103rd-floor observation deck, The Skydeck, 412 meters above the ground, you can see across four states and as far away as 80 kilometres on a clear day. Not that you’d want to be up there when George the giant gorilla turns up, lured by a transmitter placed on its summit. In real life, visitors can simply revel in one of Chicago’s most spectacular views while standing in a glass box which juts out 1.3 metres over the edge.
Almost all of the Chicago scenes in the movie were shot from the air. To film the sequence where primatologist Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and the military arrive in the city, helicopters criss-crossed Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s ‘Magnificent Mile’ of high-end shopping, early one Sunday morning in June 2017. It seems that mutants behave much like most tourists, sticking to this popular district where the main attractions are malls like Water Tower Place (instead of heading to neighbourhoods like Lincoln Park and Wicker Park, where you’ll find the trendiest new restaurants and bars).
‘Is there something in the river?’ Yes, but it’s not the boats ferrying visitors on one of Chicago Architecture Foundation’s river cruises – one of the most intriguing architectural tours in the country. It’s actually a giant mutant crocodile who’s swum up from the Everglades intending to create mayhem. Helicopters buzzed over the downtown section of the Chicago River for two weekends to collect footage for one of the movie’s most epic scenes. Back in the real world, the two kilometre walkway is an elongated playground, attracting anglers, birdwatchers, artists and courting couples. There’s a stack of places to eat and drink, too.
This square, with its distinctive 16-metre-high red Flamingo sculpture, is in the heart of the skyscraper district and, unsurprisingly, given the giant mutant’s seemingly insatiable interest in tall buildings, the epicentre of Rampage’s final battle. Chicago could be called the home of the skyscraper, as the 10-storey 1884 Home Insurance Building was the first to use structural steel in its frame. Others quickly sprouted, and today the city’s skyline is pierced by such amazing structures as the Aon Center (328 metres) and Chase Tower (259 metres).
Cathay Pacific flies to Chicago from Hong Kong seven times a week