“San Andreas” continues to showcase Dwayne Johnson as a top tier action hero

Dwayne Johnson 599 × 338

We have more of almost everything at the movies these days, with one glaring exception: we don’t have nearly as many action heroes as we used to. Sure, there are plenty of action films opening with stars or up and comers in leading roles, saving the day, but very few true “action heroes”. One notable modern exception is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a certified A-list star of the action genre. He’s come a long way from just being The Rock, either in wrestling or his first on screen roles, but even removed from that, he’s a charismatic screen presence that holds the action hero title these days with aplomb. This week, he further cements his status with the disaster movie San Andreas.

In San Andreas, we get west coast spin on the disaster movie, leaving New York City alone for a moment to focus in on California. The film follows Johnson as a helicopter rescue pilot who tries to save his soon to be ex-wife and daughter in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively as the Golden State sees the San Andreas fault crack open in literally Earth shaking quakes. He then goes on a mission to save his family, as you’d expect. Johnson stars, with Carla Gugino as his wife and Alexandra Daddario as his daughter. The cast also includes Paul Giamatti, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Archie Panjabi, Kylie Minogue, Todd Williams, and Will Yun Lee. The director here is Brad Peyton, while the screenwriting team consists of Carlton Cuse, Andre Fabrizio, and Jeremy Passmore.

The special effects are the star of this one, but Johnson gives them a run for their money, demonstrating the screen presence and charisma that has made him the star that he now is in Hollywood. Those qualities made him the top pro wrestler of his generation, so it’s no surprise that he’s a ready made action hero. Initially, he coasted by on those qualities, but now he’s developed some acting chops to boot. He’s no Oscar nominee in the making (though anything is possible), but San Andreas represents one of his best performances to date, outside of Snitch and perhaps Pain and Gain as well. He’s a movie star through and through.

What makes Johnson not only one of the few action heroes we have, but one of the best, is how well he compliments whatever is happening on the screen. Be it car chases, earthquakes, or anything in between, he takes it in stride and never misses the opportunity to make a witty remark. His imposing size makes him seem like a plausible threat to whatever the villain or antagonist of a film is, while his persona gives him a bit of a teddy bear vibe as well. It’s the mix that you want in an action hero, especially one seeking to appeal to all sorts of audiences. This new film especially manages to show that off in spades.

When San Andreas opens this weekend in theaters, it’ll offer up Johnson as much more than just “The Rock”, though he’ll never completely leave that behind. The movie shows him as a true leading man and one of Hollywood’s best new action heroes. I’d be shocked if he’s not headlining more films of this ilk in the coming years, since he’s perfectly tailored to them. Sure, he fits well as a supporting player in the Fast and Furious franchise, but he deserves his own vehicles. San Andreas may not be the complete best use of his talents, but he gives it his all and shows us why he’s a movie star unlike many others that we have today…

Be sure to check out Johnson in San Andreas on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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