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The Good, The Bad and The Badass: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

05.25.2015
Last week, we took at look at the career of character actor Sam Rockwell. This week's badass is more of a force of nature, a throwback to the iconic action stars we took for granted in the eighties and nineties...
Dwayne Johnson
dwayne johnson fast five

Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) was pegged as the next great action hero for nearly a decade before it actually happened. After years as one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE, his initial stab at big-screen stardom, THE SCORPION KING – while unexceptional – went better than other wrestler to actor transitions. By the time THE RUNDOWN hit theaters it looked like he was well on his way to becoming the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. But, THE RUNDOWN and his follow-up, WALKING TALL, were only moderate moneymakers. Johnson, wanting to prove there was more to him than just muscle, tried to stretch himself into other genres – maybe a little too early. While he performed admirably in movies like BE COOL and SOUTHLAND TALES, his detour into comedy was lucrative but disastrous in the long term. THE GAME PLAN was a hit, but his comedy follow-up THE TOOTH FAIRY, pretty much saw him lose all credibility in many fans eyes, with the light-action/sci-fi RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, not helping things.

Perhaps sensing this and wanting to win back his original fans, Johnson went back to action but his first effort, FASTER, tanked. However, someone had the bright idea of putting Johnson in as a supporting character in FAST FIVE and the result was a major re-invigoration of both Johnson's career and the FAST & FURIOUS franchise. As Hobbs, Johnson fit right in to the ultra-testosterone fueled word of the increasingly popular series, and his character has become such a fan favorite that the buzz is he's going to get his own spin-off entry. Wisely, Johnson's next few movies didn't try to shake things up too much, with G.I JOE: RETALIATION further enhancing his reputation as franchise Viagra, while FAST & FURIOUS 6, and FURIOUS 7 – despite regulating him to near cameo-status (the result of his now busy schedule) – opened him up to a wide international audience that's made him a worldwide icon. Case in point: HERCULES. While only a minor hit stateside ($73 million) overseas it made more than twice that, proving he's got a substantial fan-base all over. This week's SAN ANDREAS seems designed to build on that audience.

His Best Film
dwayne johnson fast five

While of the FAST & FURIOUS series, I probably prefer the latest installment, FURIOUS 7, as far as Johnson goes I'd say FAST FIVE was his best vehicle to date. The role of Hobbs is perfect for him, with him playing an incorruptible hero that's like a throwback to to old Hollywood with a 21st century edge behind him. As an action hero, Johnson makes Hobbs ultra-effective, and at this point a spinoff really does seem like a no-brainer as a solo outing could take Johnson's career to the next level. As far as pure acting goes, I'd wager Johnson gave his best-ever performance in SNITCH, a relatively gritty crime thriller where he proved convincing as an everyman hero trying to get his son released from jail by helping set up drug dealers. Johnson really played it straight, even (seemingly) toning down his insane physique for the part. SNITCH suggests that once his muscleman days are behind him Johnson will likely be able to move into gritter parts with less emphasis on his physique. However, that time has not yet come.

His Most Underrated Film
dwayne johnson southland tales

I'm still not sure I actually like SOUTHLAND TALES. Richard Kelly's film is a confounding mess, but as imperfect as it is there's still something fascinating about it. For his part, Johnson is excellent in a largely comedic part that pokes fun at himself by casting him as a wimpy action hero unknowingly caught up in potentially apocalyptic events. Again, I'm not saying it's a good movie, but it's worth a second look.

His Most Overrated Film
dwayne johnson faster

A lot of people seem to like FASTER but to me it's always been a pretentious mess. Seemingly an effort to update THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY, it plays like a trash-rock version of a spaghetti western, with Johnson inexplicably sidelined for most of the film in favor of Billy Bob Thornton as a crooked cop, and no-name Oliver Jackson-Cohen as a hitman who's supposed to be like a modern “Man with No Name” but comes off as a walking cliche. I hated this movie and I don't get why people like it.

His Most Memorable Scene

For me, Johnson made a pretty amazing debut as an action hero in the opening nightclub fight with NFL'ers in THE RUNDOWN. The movie itself is only OK, but this bit is great, as is the clever Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo where he (in essence) passes the torch to Johnson saying “have fun.”

 
His Five Best Films

5. PAIN & GAIN
4. THE RUNDOWN
3. SNITCH
2. FAST & FURIOUS 6/ FURIOUS 7 (Tie)
1. FAST FIVE

Up Next

Johnson's got a lot on his plate. SAN ANDREAS opens Friday, while – in a clever move – Johnson's also put together a racy HBO show called Ballers, that's getting great buzz. Next, he teams up with Kevin Hart in the action comedy CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE before presumably signing on for another big action tentpole.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:41PM on 05/25/2015
Gridiron Gang is his most underrated. Overrated is DOOM, I was so looking forward to that flick and it blew. Pain &Gain was his best performance in my book. What he needs to solidify him as the next Arnie is roles like Commando and Predator that stand the test of time as badass. I think a Hobbs spin-off is a step in the right direction.
Gridiron Gang is his most underrated. Overrated is DOOM, I was so looking forward to that flick and it blew. Pain &Gain was his best performance in my book. What he needs to solidify him as the next Arnie is roles like Commando and Predator that stand the test of time as badass. I think a Hobbs spin-off is a step in the right direction.
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9:09PM on 05/25/2015
THE RUNDOWN is more than OK, it's awesome. Be Cool is OK. But only because it has that scene where he monologues Bring It On. Otherwise it's kind of bad.
THE RUNDOWN is more than OK, it's awesome. Be Cool is OK. But only because it has that scene where he monologues Bring It On. Otherwise it's kind of bad.
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2:45PM on 05/25/2015
Referring top the Rundown as ok, and overlooking pain and gain. Shame on you.
Referring top the Rundown as ok, and overlooking pain and gain. Shame on you.
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6:23PM on 05/25/2015
Overlooking Pain and Gain? It's on the list of Top 5 best movies!
Overlooking Pain and Gain? It's on the list of Top 5 best movies!
12:56PM on 05/25/2015
I never even knew FASTER was trying to be like TGTBATU because it wasn't even close to being close in any noticeable way. To me, PAIN & GAIN was his best performance. He's got great comedic chops, whereas he was way too overly serious in FASTER.
I never even knew FASTER was trying to be like TGTBATU because it wasn't even close to being close in any noticeable way. To me, PAIN & GAIN was his best performance. He's got great comedic chops, whereas he was way too overly serious in FASTER.
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-1
11:07AM on 05/25/2015
Great article and thanks for pointing out that Faster was a pretentious Piece of shit.
Great article and thanks for pointing out that Faster was a pretentious Piece of shit.
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10:53AM on 05/25/2015

The Rundown

To me the Rundown is his most enjoyable movie. I think Gridiron Gang was probably his best acting gig though. I didn't like Snitch but I thought he did a good job on that one
To me the Rundown is his most enjoyable movie. I think Gridiron Gang was probably his best acting gig though. I didn't like Snitch but I thought he did a good job on that one
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10:35AM on 05/25/2015
Big fan of Dwayne. He's the next Arnie hands down.
Big fan of Dwayne. He's the next Arnie hands down.
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9:38AM on 05/25/2015
Favorite films of his are Rundown, Snitch, Pain and Gain, and Faster. The guy is versatile; I just wish he would pick better scripts in terms of Blockbusters.
Favorite films of his are Rundown, Snitch, Pain and Gain, and Faster. The guy is versatile; I just wish he would pick better scripts in terms of Blockbusters.
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+0
5:59AM on 05/25/2015
Indeed, fast five is definitely his best role though I thought he went from being a total bad ass in five to 'standard rock' in six and seven. Gridiron Gang, Snitch, rundown, pain and gain and faster are probably the best of the rest. In my opinion anyways....
Indeed, fast five is definitely his best role though I thought he went from being a total bad ass in five to 'standard rock' in six and seven. Gridiron Gang, Snitch, rundown, pain and gain and faster are probably the best of the rest. In my opinion anyways....
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8:06AM on 05/25/2015
I'm sad that The Rock's role in Fast 7 was so small.
I'm sad that The Rock's role in Fast 7 was so small.
3:29AM on 05/25/2015

Gridiron Gang !


as honorable mention

as honorable mention
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8:05AM on 05/25/2015
That's a really good movie!
That's a really good movie!
3:26AM on 05/25/2015
Badass indeed. The guy is very versatile. He's good in action and comedy movies. His guest star in the latest season of Saturday Night Live was effin' funny. And Faster is his best movie, in my opinion. It's that good.
Badass indeed. The guy is very versatile. He's good in action and comedy movies. His guest star in the latest season of Saturday Night Live was effin' funny. And Faster is his best movie, in my opinion. It's that good.
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1:59PM on 05/25/2015
Man's been doing The Rock Obama since 2009, if you wanna see more.
Man's been doing The Rock Obama since 2009, if you wanna see more.
6:41PM on 05/25/2015
Thanks, will definitely try to find old episodes.
Thanks, will definitely try to find old episodes.
+1
1:30AM on 05/25/2015

Faster was awesome

You are so wrong about that film
You are so wrong about that film
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+1
1:19AM on 05/25/2015

Good Actor, Great Comedic Timing

I have to disagree with 'Pain & Gain' as one of his best films. While 'Faster' was a pretentious mess, it was better than the letdown that P&G was. I've rarely walked away from a film as dismal. 'Snitch' was an excellent showcase of his acting talents. I particularly liked how the scene where he got beat up was shot at night with only glimpses of DJ and the other actors as a way to minimize the size differential between him and the muggers.
I have to disagree with 'Pain & Gain' as one of his best films. While 'Faster' was a pretentious mess, it was better than the letdown that P&G was. I've rarely walked away from a film as dismal. 'Snitch' was an excellent showcase of his acting talents. I particularly liked how the scene where he got beat up was shot at night with only glimpses of DJ and the other actors as a way to minimize the size differential between him and the muggers.
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