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Dwayne Johnson is a movie star unlike any other

HOLLYWOOD HEROES™: Once just known as pro wrestler The Rock, recent years have seen Dwayne Johnson conquer Hollywood and become an A-list actor. Not only that, he’s done it as both an action hero and a comedy star, even mixing the two to great success. This week, Johnson goes up against some classic video game characters when Rampage opens up. It’ll be another example of Johnson throwing himself in with a high concept (more on that later), though one that has the potential to result in a smash hit, no pun intended. Regardless of how this one turns out, one thing is for certain…Johnson is at the top of the A-list right now, with no signs of going anywhere either.

The film is a would be summer blockbuster. Based on the game where you just smash up cities, some story has been added here. IMDb lists this as the plot synopsis: “Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry transforms this gentle ape into a raging monster. As these newly created monsters tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.” Johnson plays Davis Okoye, obviously. Another prominent character is Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), though this decidedly will be Johnson’s show. Brad Peyton directs a script by Ryan J. Condal, Carlton Cuse, Ryan Engle, and Adam Sztykiel. Along for the ride in supporting roles are Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, and more.

Johnson is an odd fit for this movie, but then again, he seemingly signs on based mostly on how he feels about the premise (cough Baywatch cough). Sometimes, that leads to high concept successes, but other times, not so much. Having not seen the flick, I can’t say if it succeeds or not, but it seems like the property didn’t need him and he didn’t need the property. Still, Johnson in a disaster film has a ton of potential. Later on this year, he’ll be at it again in Skyscraper. For now though, he has CGI monsters to deal with here. My best guess? He’ll handle them while cracking wise, which is pretty much his brand.

As an actor, Johnson has an uncanny screen presence and nearly unmatched charisma. Go figure, the tools that made him an iconic pro wrestler now serve him well here in Tinseltown. Look at how he seamlessly was added to a franchise with The Fast and the Furious series. He’s worked out so well that he’s getting his own spinoff. Initially, Johnson seemed like the heir apparent to the old days of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. His added comedy chops and versatility suggest an even high ceiling for the actor. Truly, the sky is the limit, and Johnson may very well just be getting started.

Here now are Johnson’s ten best performances to date:

10. Get Smart
9. Doom
8. Walking Tall
7. The Other Guys
6. Be Cool
5. Southland Tales
4. Snitch
3. Central Intelligence
2. Pain & Gain
1. Moana

This weekend, Rampage hopes to be the rare video game movie to succeed, partly due to Johnson’s presence. Going forward, it’s hard not to see Johnson continuing to be one of the biggest stars in the industry. Whether it’s action, comedy, or a hybrid, how can you not want him involved in your movie? We haven’t seen him take any real steps towards prestige fare yet, but that could be coming. Who knows, we might even see him in an Academy Award nominated film before long! There’s no telling if Johnson himself will ever be Oscar nominated, but he clearly has a lot to offer. Again, the possibilities are endless…

Be sure to check out Johnson in Rampage, opening in theaters everywhere on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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