Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is one of the most intriguing mainstream actors working today, often elevating and offering a some valuable input to his films. Unfortunately, Black Adam, DC’s latest superhero flick lacks the story, effects, or cohesion for The Rock to save it from itself and another example of Warner Bros.’s struggles with the genre,
Teth-Adam (Johnson) is an ancient slave in the fictional Middle Eastern country Kahndaq, whose past and powers are intrinsically linked to the oppressed nation’s history. After fighting against the regime, he was chosen by the powers that be from Shazam and preserved in a tomb in the ancient ruins.
In the modern day Adrianna (Sarah Shahi) know how to read the anxient text and believes that freeing Adam would allow for the city to be released from its ongoing oppression. But when he is awoken in the present day, Adam must learn about modern-day values and how to control his powers.
In comes the Justice Society who are tasked with putting him back in his crypt and ensuring that he doesn’t “destroy the world”. With an additional group of villains looking to take Adam down for his powers, there seems to be trouble everywhere he looks. If only there was dramatic tension to make this action feel palpable.
Putting The Rock seems like the easiest decision ever for executives yet Black Adam isn’t the right project. The character, meant to have been from the Middle East, is wrong for him. Everyone around him has an accent yet The Rock comes across as American as ever.
The screenplay by Jaume Collet-Serra hits all the familiar notes and still feels overblown. And worst of all, it doesn’t lean into what makes him a bankable star. His brooding mood is at odds with his likeability and The Rock fails to adequately capture the dark humour.
The Justice Society also feel underdeveloped and while some appearances make for fun fan fodder, their quick inclusion in the story makes them feel like an afterthought in the story. Worst of all there is no substantial adversary who is working against Adam and doesn’t succeed in distinguishing who the heroes and villains are.
Black Adam fails in a lot of ways and many of them could have been resolved if included in a Shazam movie or more slowly introduced to the character. And with a better actor, Black Adam could have been. But sadly, this time it is not much more than big loud explosions.