Anna Donnelly explores how action movie fans find themselves between the Rock and a hard place, as Dwayne Johnson’s reign continues indefinitely.
Picture the scene: A large room with hooded figures sitting menacingly around a table. “A new action movie is coming,” one of them declares. “You know what to do,” rasps the voice from the head of the table. The figures understand the command and rise in unison, ready to scour the land in search of the one they need, the chosen one: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. He who is destined to play the leading role in all action films until the end of time. As it was written in the ancient scrolls, so shall it be.
This may not be what springs to everyone’s mind when they see that our pal DJ has been carted in yet again to flex his muscles, arch his eyebrow, and shoot at some indistinguishable goons. However, it is safe to say that no one is blissfully ignorant of how ‘The Rock’ is constantly rolled out for the same action-packed roles as if washboard abs are going out of style.
The Rock is constantly rolled out for the same action-packed roles as if washboard abs are going out of style.
It seems we are collectively living in the parallel universe of the film Groundhog Day, a universe in which we are all Bill Murray and every day we wake up hoping for things to be different, but no. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is always the hero and we are the helpless spectators, forced to be entertained by this Hollywood symbol of mindless formulaic repetition. This is the reality we have built for ourselves. With only a chiselled wifebeater-wearing man to protect us from whatever ensuing radioactive/ninja/outer space threat that’s ready to destroy the guaranteed setting of America, therefore, humanity. We only have ourselves to blame.
If you think this is one big, unfounded over-reaction, take a quick look at the outfits Mr Johnson dons in two of his latest flicks Rampage and Jumanji. I would bet a Centra chicken fillet roll that he wears the exact same pair of shorts in those two films. Now, maybe this perceived coincidence is underestimating ‘The Rock.’ Maybe pointedly reusing this item of clothing is a political statement against the wasteful nature of the fashion industry or maybe it’s an incidental reflection of the monotony of his film choices. Who’s to say?
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is always the hero and we are the helpless spectators, forced to be entertained by this symbol of Hollywood’s mindless formulaic repetition.
All this being said, maybe Dwayne’s limited array of roles isn’t entirely his fault, as the possibility of typecasting cannot be ruled out. Ironically, maybe him constantly being forced to play the hero has made him the ultimate victim, resigned to the monotony of his own greatness. Even as he has been cast as Black Adam, DC hero Shazam’s enemy, we are told he will play an ‘antihero’ and will get his own film; never truly playing the bad guy.
Although his admirable characters secure victory, that may not stop him losing a part of himself along the way. It remains within the realm of possibility that right now, somewhere in the world ‘The Rock’ is in his film trailer, pumping iron before his big action sequence of the day, while holding back tears as he thinks about how he didn’t get picked for that role of the inner-city school teacher trying to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children. He ramps it up another 10kgs every time he feels himself welling up. It’s difficult to throw cars at bad guys when you feel this down, he thinks to himself, while absentmindedly balancing a small child on his pinkie.
It’s possible we have become complacent with the reliable performances of Dwayne, who although is at an age where most have passed their physical peak, remains just as fast and furious as always. In this unstable political climate of nuclear threats and bad wigs, is a bit of escapism from our good old friend DJ really all that terrible? If the huddled masses derive comfort from a familiar face shooting at giant bloodthirsty reptiles, the beloved memory of Steve Irwin be damned, then who are we to judge?
Personal preferences aside, it’s hard to deny that Dwayne Johnson hasn’t become unashamedly overexposed within the action genre. Hopefully, he will be able to cool the jets while his one-trick-pony style remains mildly amusing, before crossing into the bounds of outright annoying. Like the Batman quote loosely says, “he’s the hero [we] deserve, but not the one [we] need right now.” I think its safe to say that, whether we deserve him or not, Mr Johnson has become the hero that no one needs, let’s just hope he realises it before it’s too late.