We may now live in a pop culture age that is more defined by franchises than movie stars, but there is no denying the power and influence carried by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The man has become a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. Whether it’s in action movies, comedies or thrillers, audiences are regularly excited to see what he is up to on the big screen. And now, with JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL in theatres today, we’re seeing that fandom stirred up again once more in 2019.
It’s been impressive to watch Dwayne Johnson’s rise in the industry over the years — especially because not everybody initially takes performers seriously when their careers start in the world of wrestling. Johnson, however, was able to stand out from the pack thanks to the particular skills he brings to the table. Let's look back at the three films that really took him from being a wrestling hero to a Hollywood superstar.
Dwayne Johnson’s first turn as Luke Hobbs was a game-changer.
With roles in movies like JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and G.I. JOE: RETALIATION on his resume, Dwayne Johnson earned the nickname "Franchise Viagra" when he was first making an effort to prove himself in the film industry, but no project better exemplified his franchise work during that period than FAST FIVE. Serving as the chapter’s antagonist, the actor helped the FAST & FURIOUS series earn an entirely new and amazing profile in the world of pop culture, and especially thanks to Johnson’s input, many still agree that this is the best film in the run. Admittedly, the actor is still doing the "Franchise Viagra" thing today, as JUMANJI is another great example of that kind of work, but FAST FIVE is where it truly all began.
Pain & Gain
The Michael Bay-directed crime thriller allowed us to see a very different kind of character from Dwayne Johnson.
PAIN & GAIN might be a Michael Bay movie, but it’s not your typical Michael Bay movie in that the main spectacle of the film isn’t a series of massive explosions and car chases. Instead, the feature is an outlier in the director’s career as it is much more about character and drama, which is why it’s such a major performance for Dwayne Johnson. Playing the psychotic, steroid-abusing Paul Doyle, Johnson shows a very different side of himself in the role and delivers a turn unlike anything seen in any of his other projects. It’s an impressive example of his real range, and it’s because of those special skills that he was able to legitimately make the transition from wrestler to respected actor.
It’s not just in live-action that Dwayne Johnson can totally dominate the screen.
Dwayne Johnson’s build made him a rather natural fit to join the world of Hollywood action movies. The adventure in JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL very much takes advantage of those qualities as well. But the actor’s charisma is really something that all audiences can enjoy, as perfectly seen in MOANA. It’s true the Johnson does have some less-than-stellar family films on his resume, but his performance as Maui in the Walt Disney Animation Studios feature is truly non-stop wonderful, and he even has the opportunity to contribute one of the film’s best songs: the fantastic earworm "You’re Welcome."
Dwayne Johnson's latest film, JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL, is in theatres now. Get your tickets at AMC today.