Dwayne Johnson may be king of the WWE, but has handily proven he’s untouchable as an action star as well. There’s a reason he bills himself as “franchise viagra” – when it comes to blockbusters, few can stand up to the former wrestler.
The Rock’s next big budget action flick is Skyscraper, due in theaters on July 13, starring Johnson as former FBI agent and amputee Will Sawyer, who resides in Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper. The building is supposedly safe, but Saywer has his reservations about security. His fears become reality when terrorists enter the building, putting his family in danger.
Skyscraper is another perfect fit for Johnson, with a blend of heart and pure spectacle. With its release only a matter of weeks away, let’s take a look at the actor’s top movies.
The title character in Moana is the daughter of a Polynesian chief, who explores the ocean in order to return an ancient relic to a goddess, and save her village in the process. She doesn’t make this journey alone, however. She’s accompanied by Maui, a shape-shifting god voiced by Johnson. In spite of his limited ability as a singer, Johnson performs wonderfully in several of the movie’s musical numbers, and the character is animated to echo the actor’s distinctive physical style. Because we don’t see his face this might not be the first thing you think of from Johnson, but Moana is a terrific showcase for the actor, and a beautiful story besides.
The Rundown is among the earliest films starring Johnson, who was still mostly known for his work in the WWE ring. The 2003 action/comedy followed The Scorpion King and was the second film for actor-turned-director Peter Berg, who has made a career out of being ahead of the curve. (In addition to casting Johnson early, he did Hancock before superhero movies were huge, and set the stage for the TV series Friday Night Lights.) Johnson plays Beck, a “retrieval expert” (aka bounty hunter) who goes to Brazil to retrieve his employer’s son. The Rundown was received well by critics, and Johnson was commended for his performance. The blend of action and comedy helped shape the action hero he is today.
The Scorpion King
OK, there are other “more worthy” films, but we have to pay tribute to The Scorpion King for starting Johnson’s career as a leading man. The 2002 prequel to the Mummy franchise features Johnson as Mathayus, aka the Scorpion King, who previously had a brief appearance in The Mummy Returns. While half his scenes in that first film were terrible CGI, The Scorpion King is all about Mathayus – and about Johnson’s star power. Full of all the early-’00s action and cheese you could possibly want, The Scorpion King remains an entertaining intro to Johnson’s franchise-carrying abilities.
Pain & Gain
Michael Bay’s 2013 feature acts as a break from the Transformers movies, and is one of the best movies to show people who think they don’t like Bay’s films. Based on a true story, Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie star as three Miami bodybuilders who resort to extreme measures – including extortion and kidnapping – in an attempt to make a lot of cash. The film’s violence was controversial, but that’s also part of why it stands out. Johnson the bad guy in this one, and seeing The Rock engaged in some really nasty stuff is more than enough to fix Pain & Gain in the most jaded viewer’s memory.
This 2010 comedy/drama casts Johnson as a hockey player nicknamed the “Tooth Fairy.” When he steals a dollar bill from his girlfriend’s six-year-old child – a buck intended for the tooth fairy – the player grows wings and is transported to a magical realm full of tooth fairies. Johnson is great in this film, and it’s pretty cool to see him playing something other than an action hero. He’s still the hero of this film, but one of a different sort. His character has something to learn, which makes for great viewing for the whole family.
Skyscraper hits theaters on July 13th, 2018.